Ethereal – Opus Aethereum (2015) – Though this Liverpool quintet have been around since 2005, Opus Aetherum stands as the band’s very first full-length offering. Even Metal Archives seems to be confused about the genre description here, as they apparently have them marked down as “doom/death” even though I’m definitely hearing a rather strong mix of synths and blackened/death metal. To put it simply, these guys remind me of Dimmu Borgir or Old Man’s Child in their most notable constructs, albeit with a more modern approach to the scowls and just a little bit of gravel on the growls.
In a roundabout way, it feels like an extremely accessible variation of symphonic blackened/death metal, but not quite as vile or intriguing as Carach Angren. But if you really want to know where I think the band shine, it’s in their guitar offerings, and yes – I am talking about solos here. As a matter of fact, right near the end of opener “Nomicon 7:12” (added length due to synth intro) there are some truly magnificent leads that certainly help to top the piece, even though that same approach doesn’t seem to work so well (at least for me) during the pounding of “Overwrite The Archetype 5:49.”
Opus Aetherum certainly delivers a memorable, yet slightly rehashed approach to the genre of symphonic extreme metal that more than most of us have already heard before, delivering most in its synths and guitar leads with the fierce vocal approached definitely standing out in the mix and drumming that feels natural for this style of metal. It’s not a record that will offer anything truly new to the genre, so I wouldn’t call it innovative, even though it did certainly work to cheer me up during a rather raucous time at the day job last weekend.
There’s no real need to go through each and every cut on the album as they more or less sound like variants of each other and that’s something you’ll notice after about the first fifteen minutes of playing. Ethereal definitely have the proper amount of skill and talent needed to create an impressive mixture of symphonic black/death, it just feels like a band playing around it’s record collection and only manages to dazzle me here and there.
Nevertheless, it is a solid record and I wouldn’t fault you for buying it. These gentlemen really put a lot of hard work and effort into it and play a style that they feel very comfortable with. There are far worse efforts out there in this style than Opus Aetherum, but I just hope that the band’s sophomore record offers a little more meat and style. There’s definitely plenty of English class to be found here, but it’s most certainly no Bal-Sagoth.
Once again, the album did manage to put a smile of sorts on my face during a rough time at work, so that should say something about the quality of the product, at least in regards to my inaugural listen. It just wasn’t a real game changer for me. But that doesn’t mean that Ethereal won’t be able to change the game in the future… Just not at this point in time.
(8 Tracks, 40:00)