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Album Reviews : Eritherium – Ephemeral

By on November 10, 2013

“Technical Enslaved“.



Ok, how about “stoned Ne Obliviscaris“. Curious now?

Yeah, you should be.

 Ephemeral, the debut EP from Sweden’s Melbourne’s Eritherium, displays a dark and depressive (you know, anything starting with ‘d’) take on progressive metal with a strong focus on creating brooding atmospheres and  complex moods. Overall the music makes strong use of mid-tempo black metal-inspired riffs whilst drifting in and out of sparkling clean sections, in similar fashion to Enslaved or some of Opeth‘s earlier material. Similar also to these artists are the harsh, raspy vocals that almost feel like they are being drawn from the background and woven into the chordal dissonance of the music.

What sets Eritherium apart from these artists, however, is the infusion of more technical guitar and bass work. This style of music tends to be associated with fairly unoriginal bass lines that are then drowned out in the mix anyway, but Ephemeral displays almost the opposite tendency. Josh Chisinga displays more ‘lead’-style bass lines, similar in fashion to that of Sean Malone (Cynic), John Myung (Dream Theater) or Justin Chancellor (Tool), that sit rather high in the mix and provide some unique melodic phrases and rhythmic counterpoints to the atmospheric backdrops. The plenitude of guitar solos is also somewhat unusual in this style but their execution makes them fit perfectly with the band’s style. Despite being fast-paced and quite technical, the lead guitar work suits the music so well that it is almost difficult to notice, functioning more as an extra layer of melodic intensity rather than a series of “stop what you are doing and look at me, everyone” moments.

This cocktail of Opethian riffery and technical string work will no doubt evoke thoughts of Ne Obliviscarisian (try saying that out loud, it’s fun) insanity. This is not a bad comparison, but the much slower tempo and lo-fi production to Eritherium‘s style gives it a more stoner or drone feel, making it more calming than overwhelming. Different also is the vocal approach, featuring only raspy growls (with no clean vocals to accompany the sporadic clean guitars) which are only used very sparsely. The majority of the EP is in fact instrumental, with the vocals only coming in every so often so add an extra layer of discordant harshness to some of the heavier sections. As mentioned before, even when the vocals do come in they sit relatively low in the mix, making them seem more a part of the background than is commonly seen. I’m sure this makes it sound like screaming in the forest. Or something.

The overall style to the music is unique and interesting, but the one major let-down (at least for this reviewer) is the poor production quality. It’s not clear whether this is the unintended result of budget or expertise constraints or whether it is a deliberate incorporation fitting the band’s black metal influences, but either way it does somewhat spoil an otherwise enjoyable experience. If you are the kind of person that thinks that Opeth‘s Orchid is better than Blackwater Park then this probably won’t concern you overly much (and also you should be shot) but if you rather enjoy hearing the clarity in the instrumentation then Ephemeral‘s production might be a thorn in your side also. Removing the fuzz from the guitars and cleaning up the distinctions between the different elements to the music would only serve to bring out the beauty in the instrumentation and intensify the atmospheric experience, bringing the whole sound into greater focus for the listener.

If the idea of Alexi Laiho joining Enslaved tickles your tastebuds, or if the idea of hearing what would happen if Ne Obliviscaris recorded an album in the ’60s excites your eardrums then you should certainly check out Eritherium. Fans of dark progressive metal will almost certainly be interested, but fans of drone-y black or death metal will possibly also find something new to dig here as well.

Note that Eritherium have just released their full-length album “Loss” around the time of this review being published. It represents an interesting evolution of their sound, be sure to check it out!

Band: Eritherium
Album: Ephemeral
Year: 2013
Genre: Progressive metal
Label: none/independent
Origin: Melbourne, Australia

Track List:
1. The Struggle
2. Gaia
3. Internal Seclusion
4. Moonflow


Sam Maher is Metal Obsession's resident prog reviewer. He only likes songs that are at least 15 minutes long, contain 4 guitar solos and can only be described with a genre that is at least six words long. He also plays guitar for Sydney-based groovy melodic progressive technical death metal band Apparitions of Null.