Album: The Untamed Wilderness
Label: Lifeforce Records
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Release Date: 24th November, 2017
Thin wisps of fog rise behind great rugged mountains that have weathered eons of time. Beyond conifers shrouded in mist, a placid lake lies stagnant, its surface a sheet of frozen glass. An elk drinks from the surface of the lake, its tongue lapping the water, its sides heaving as it draws breath in the thin air. Suddenly, the elk raises its head, snorting through wide nostrils. Across the lake, ethereal forms wreathe in and out of the mist, at once part of and distinct from the grandeur of nature. The elk lowers its head and begins to drink once again. It somehow knows that the spirits do not mean it any harm.
Such an atmosphere is evoked by Aetherian’s album art for their debut full-length release, entitled The Untamed Wilderness. The Greek quartet plays melodic death metal in the vein of Insomnium, infusing keys and atmosphere into their shredding riffs and gurgling screams. Measured against the juggernauts of the genre, The Untamed Wilderness is a solid release that nevertheless is also accompanied by minor flaws.
The Untamed Wilderness begins with “Clouds Gathering,” an instrumental featuring acoustic guitar and muted dynamics. A gradual crescendo with swelling violin propels Aetherian into the next track, “The Rain.” “The Rain” is an excellent single that features memorable guitar work and tempo changes. It stands as one of the strongest songs on The Untamed Wilderness.
“The Path” begins with distorted guitar and clashing cymbals. Unfortunately, much of the song comes off as generic. Aetherian is back on track with “As the Veil Fades,” which features atmospheric guitar leads and energetic drumming. “Shade of the Sun” commences with a melody that wouldn’t be out of place on a folk metal song. It’s a direction that the band would benefit from experimenting with more. The rest of the song is a bit chaotic in nature, jumping back and forth between different tempos. The keys are like refreshing droplets of rain that cleanse the listener’s auditory senses. The sixth offering on The Untamed Wilderness is “Seeds of Deception,” which comes across as a vapid melodic death metal track that’s been done many times before.
To redeem themselves, Aetherian doesn’t hold anything back on the last three songs of the record. “Wish of Autumn Twilight” features a progressive melody as an introduction that transforms into a song stuffed to the brim with atmospheric melodies reminiscent of some of Insomnium’s best material. “Dark Earth” puts the pedal to the metal with furious drumming and guitar playing. The keys are back in full force, accentuating manic guitar riffs and bastardized growling. An acoustic interlude mid-song demonstrates that Aetherian are a knowledgeable group of musicians able to craft varied, interesting music. The outro, framed by wailing atmospheric guitars, is unique. The Untamed Wilderness closes with “Black Sails.” It’s a phenomenal finisher, putting each instrument forth at its best. Guitar solos sail atop crunching rhythm guitar and thumping bass like a fleet of sleek schooners racing against the oncoming tide. The band briefly backs off the pace for a moment towards the end, and then hits the listener with a full dose of Greek death metal to end it.
If the entire album was as polished as the last three songs, Aetherian could easily be the next great name in melodic death metal. Unfortunately, the album suffers from inconsistency. At times, Aetherian doesn’t take enough risks and ends up sounding a bit too much like an Insomnium clone. With time, hopefully that will change. Additionally, more variation in the vocals from Panos Leakos would be welcome. For almost the entire album, he growls in the same middle-of-the-road octave, and it is somewhat tedious after multiple listens. Aside from these factors, The Untamed Wilderness is a solid debut album from Aetherian. It’s worth listening to for the last three songs and “The Rain.” Aetherian’s fate is untold, but hopefully they will become a force to be reckoned with in the Greek metal scene.
1. Clouds Gathering
2. The Rain
3. The Path
4. As the Veil Fades
5. Shade of the Sun
6. Seeds of Deception
7. Wish of Autumn Twilight
8. Dark Earth
9. Black Sails
Total Playing Time: 54:20