by MythofRock

I like Aetherian, but not for reasons concerning music solely. Admittedly, these guys from Athens, Greece, know how to write good, memorable melodies; beyond that, what I appreciate most is their commitment to follow a solitary path, in a country where the popularity of Scandinavian melo-death is questionable. Instead, we have a strong preference for classic heavy/power/epic metal, we develop -as time passes- a liking for stoner/doom and down-tuned conditions in general, and -apparently- we appreciate thrash and black metal, given of course our reputable domestic activity in these genres. However, Aetherian chose to evolve in a “territory” where few Greek acts dared to engage in.

Their debut, “The Untamed Wilderness”, six years ago, was a noteworthy and more-than-satisfying example of Scandinavian -and specifically Finnish- melodic death, revealing overtly their influences (mainly Insomnium). Anyway, in a genre that’s so well-defined by the pioneers, newcomers don’t have substantial allowances, or a “free hand”, to write something innovative. Influences for everyone are undeniable, and what matters most is the way of perceiving them; and in this respect, Aetherian proved that -despite their young age- they’re proficient in working meticulously and integrating the teachings of their mentors, without autistic tendencies though.

“At Storm’s Edge”, based -as you may have guessed- on the melodic perspective of the North-European tradition, indicates composing and performing maturity, supported by a modern, crystal-clear production that highlights the diversity of certain songs. During the years that passed since their debut, Aetherian worked thoroughly on their vision, offering a more cohesive, well-developed and expansive work, where the point of attraction is the impressive variety of guitar patterns. Listen to the album, and you’ll surely perceive leads and melodies as the “seam lines” that bind everything together.   

Given the detailed and precise result, it’s evident that Aetherian dedicated countless hours to composition (splendid work by Angelos Maniatakos). We have plenty of interwoven layers, powerful melodies and memorable leads, that bring out melancholy and grief, under the familiar veil of Northern coldness, expressing the band’s awareness regarding the fall of Man. Occasionally, patterns become epic, and even glorious, like in “Army of Gaia” or “At Storm’s Edge”, where the succession of themes is really challenging. Aetherian attained a raw feeling via the occasional blackening of their ideas, an orientation that we first heard in the standalone single “Primordial Woods”, two years ago; that’s one of the pros, since the black element fits ideally in the band’s character. Concurrently, they can sound more sentimental in the gloomier, yet dynamic “Soulriver”, where beauty travels through simplicity (the acoustic, almost post parts work really well).

Of course, the solidity and effectiveness of the rhythm section enable the band to perform brilliantly, either during moments of epic melodicism, or in classic melo-death outbursts and gallops (the titular song might be the most typical example in this respect). However, the achieved leap wouldn’t have been possible without Panos’ maturation on vocal duties. In “The Untamed Wilderness” the brutality of his voice was rather exaggerated considering the melodicism of the album; but now, he’s found a tone that coincides perfectly with the band’s idiosyncrasy, without losing his expressiveness. Indeed, that’s one of the marks that indicates Aetherian’s progress to the next level.

As my listening session approaches the end, hearing the magnificent “Starlit Shores”, I realize that my initial thoughts about how I wanted the album to sound like are fulfilled; and that’s what matters most. Many of you would comment that “At Storm’s Edge” is strongly influenced by Insomnium or Wolfheart. I agree, but this isn’t the case in an oversaturated genre, where all newcomers -unavoidably- rely on someone else, at least during their first steps.

Aetherian’s sophomore album isn’t a breakthrough, but they excel in taking what we already know, and enhancing its beauty. “At Storm’s Edge” is a powerful, strong comeback by a band that shouldn’t bear the term “promising” from now on (since they fulfilled its meaning). Definitely, it should be heard even to Insomnium’s homeland.

♦ 8/10

Alex Nikolaidis





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