Album: Silent Witness
Label: Snow Wave Records
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Release Date: September 12, 2018
Aeolian are an ecological minded band emerging from the southern Spanish island ‘Mallorca’. Silent Witness is the starting point to their burgeoning discography, but offers an optimistic outlook at what’s to come. This album is a dense creole of melodic death, folk, black, and thrash metal. The album focuses on the impact humans have on the environment, and it’s inability to retort or meaningfully react, hence the name ‘Silent Witness’. Aeolian is sure to satisfy a wide range of listeners with this release.
The most standout element of this album is the density of the mix. Most melodic death metal involves layer upon layer of guitar melody and key orchestration. But this is not the case in Silent Witness. There are absolutely no keyboards, and the guitar riffs are thick and heavy, yet maintain melodic hooks and elements that distinguish it as melodic death. I find with melodic death metal there tends to be so much focus on the melodies and fast solos in the guitar work that it can pull focus away from the rhythm work. But not so with Aeolian, The leads were used tastefully, and the rhythm work is excellent. The riffs are really catchy and get you wanting to rock out constantly.
At this point I’d like to discuss the vocal content. As I explained earlier, the lyrical content revolves around the impact of humans on the environment. Which, while I’m not at all against, oftentimes I find this type of lyricism to be cheesy and cliche. But Aeolian took a more creative approach to the vocal content. The lyrics of each song take the viewpoint of nature, unable to speak out or defend itself as it feels and witnesses humans destroying itself. The lyrics describe in visceral detail what earth personified feels, and terrible acts of abuse humans carry out, all the while being totally deaf to its rationalist arguments, pleas, sadness and anger. The vocals, from a technical never leave me bored. They cover a lot of ground, extremely high pitched shrieks, and thick aggressive sounding low-mids. The vocal works is easily one of the strongest point of this album.
Although the album is ripe with strong points it wasn’t without it’s weaknesses. Every time I listen to it I just can’t seem to hold attention midway through. The beginning songs, ‘immensity’, to ‘Going to Extinction’ are really strong, They hit all the strong points I’ve spoken about. But once we get past that point, it just feels like there is a lot of filler up until the final two. While later songs aren’t bad, they just don’t have the catch that the First half and final tunes do.
Before I end the review I want to pull up one last point which typically doesn’t get brought up in these reviews. That is the artwork, it’s absolutely stunning. It was licensed from Kilian Eng, Concept artist for Disney, HBO, MarvelL, Sony, The New York Times etc. The album artworks almost tells a story in itself, The contrasting colour work that gives off an amazing sense of warmth, the depth in all the trees and patterns, the amazing amount of content that doesn’t clutter but fills page, and constantly gives the eyes something to look at. Looking at this and the other artworks that came in the promotional materials really makes me want to get a physical copy of this album. Really great move from a marketing stand point, and great for fans who appreciate nice artwork.
After all is said and done, Aeolian definitely struck a hit for their first album. It has a lot of strengths and avoids the typical pitfalls that a lot of melodic death metal hits. It’s got some awesome songs that are a great blend of catchy, melodies, heavy groove filled rhythms that get you wanting to move, and beautiful, icy folksy moments. But then there are also weaknesses, mainly that there are songs that just don’t catch my attention, being that they sound too much the same or generic. Aeolian are definitely worth keeping an eye on, they’ve released a great album and set a strong precedent for themselves.
2. The End of Ice
4. My Stripes in Sadness
5. Return of the Wolf King
6. Going to extinction
8. Wardens of the Sea
9. The Awakening
10. Black Storm
Total Playing Time: 55:35