Ether
There is Nothing Left for Me Here

Running Billie Holiday’s “Gloomy Sunday” through a grinder of screeching, white-washed noise is how Floridian filth merchants Ether get their kicks on opener “Dearest the Shadow,” a hint at the oddball, angular quirks to come.  The band’s 2nd LP There is Nothing Left for me here is a craggy, down the mountain plummet of doom-y, riffed out hardcore that should appeal to followers of Gaza, Blessing the Hogs, 23rd Chapter, Rune, Cattlepress, Dragbody, HAARP, early Bloodlet and other sludgy cretins that never really stuck to one particular sound.  They’ve got plenty of their own identity and take tons of chances throughout for an attack that’s hard to get a bead on.  In fact, equally felt is the influence of Crowbar, Cavity, Warning, Cathedral, Eyehategod, Pallbearer, Eyes of Fire, Mindrot, Morgion, Dead Register and a vast array of wholly identifiable doom/sludge influences.  Additionally, fans of the inventive, atmospheric crust punk pioneered by Wake up on Fire, Nux Vomica and Remains of the Day should find a lot of catch their ears as well.  This record is lush, organic, immaculately written and an engrossing, all-encompassing piece of work.

“For Every Nail a Noose” kicks off with lightspeed tempo abandon thanks to drummer Henry Burger letting loose on a frenetic gravity blast as the twin riffing of guitarists Peter Kovalsky and Devin Estep goes fuckin’ Harry Horseshit insane on your ass.  A tri-headed vocal assault n’ battery rips through traditional throaty hardcore roars, lower growls and frenetic screams.  Sharp stop/start runs keep the double-bass pressure on and dive into burly mid-paced churns where the riffs open up into grooves and full on depression doom melancholy.  Dueling clean vocals hit some huge harmonic counterpoints; one voice focusing on a booming, baritone low as the backing harmonies are of a higher, soaring persuasion.  Welp, didn’t expect that shit!  Josh Shromburg’s canyon deep bass lines provide lift amidst the tempest of density with the riffs grinding down hard and the drumming battering everything in its path.  Honestly, the end result is like a more hardcore-oriented Warning and I fuckin’ likey for damn sure.  There’s a violin played by George Geanuracos getting beaten to a string springin’ pulp in there as well, adding even more texture to this sonic whirlwind soup.  The heart-wrenching dual guitarwork even rings of some prime Warning/Pallbearer sadness.  A pile-driving, Crowbar-esque turn to the riffs adds some classic NOLA/Floridia leaned, head bobbin’ sludge to the feral mixture (with the vocals warping to pissed off insanity to match).  What a lead-off track.  They could fuck everything up beyond this point and I’d still dig ‘em.  The violin is fully featured during the outro to match up with a minimalist riff progression that perfectly sets things up for the return of sorrowful sludgy doom.

Relentless hardcore riffs full of faint, dirty Sabbath-isms permeate the intro of “We are the Empty Vessel where Life used to Grow.”  Tense, rhythmic slams focus on oblivion loud drums and pulverizing bass (which is well-placed in the mix, especially on headphones), the combo forwarding the groove until the music vaporizes into violent Cavity-styled feedback and a wall of screaming vocals.  There’s plenty of stuttering, stumbling drunk hardcore to enforce brutality at all angles but there’s more than enough brains to go with the brawn; another break of bottomless melody pairs plunging bass licks and depth-charge bass grooves to harmonized guitars, sludged-out throb riffs and vocals which range from agonized shouts to expressive, melodic singing.  This track is another flat-out winner that works beautifully when stacked up to its predecessor.  Some of the prog-minded riffs remind me of UK titans Taint, especially their underrated masterpiece slab The Ruin of Roma Nova.  Props to the haggard, bowl you the fuck over Windstein riffs that wind this fucker down.

“Inextricably Bound by the Absence of a Ring” utilizes feedback squalls, acoustic guitars, elegant violin melodies and sullen vocals for its entirety, managing to be a worthwhile mid- album preface that avoids the intermission blues.  The lengthy, crumbling “No Gods, All Masters” erupts with fading, eroded dissonance riffage tossing and turning in the wake of throttling double-bass thunder and quickly paced sonic tempo thrusts.  Harrowing melodic vocals reach all of the lofty heights needed and then some as the riffs descend into Hellish, gnarly sludge churns before an ambient section of violin, classical flamenco guitar schemes and billowing kick/tom rolls really pours on the variety.  The unusual Spanish madness is twisted, graceful and completely unexpected; another moment in a long list of “What the fuck, did I just hear that” moments strewn across every inch of the album.  You know what…these guys sound like the sprawling, theatrical crust/doom of Wake up on Fire the more I think about it.  When the ugliness comes back to the forefront, it’s fucking ugly…lacerating, multi-layered screams, growls and shouts fighting to the bloody bitter end in a storm of gothic violin, damnation doom riffing and plodding percussive carnage.  Pinchy, lurching minor-key guitar swipes cut through pillars of sludge as the song evaporates into tumbling, endlessly plummeting metallic hardcore.

Another acoustic mood-piece appears in the form of “The Burden of Trust” and since this record practically demands a seamless front to back cover play through it feels like more than a filler track.  “Coke Rope” is brimming with rhythmic syncopation and jagged staccato hardcore but not before the opening guitar harmonies bring some of the finest, well-aged Crowbar elements to the forefront.  Throat ripping vocal spew roars over the melodic sludgy filth and soon the tempos pick up into textbook stuttering hardcore mayhem marked by unusual, tuneful cadences.  Feedback takes on the form of an auxiliary instrument as the skronk-y, knuckledrag riffs are smashed to hell n’ back while the brutish drums change locations like a mirage on the move.  A sample buried beneath an avalanche of amp-squeal signifies a change into a towering bluesy groove that morphs into a variation of the world weary harmony trudge heard in the intro.  The singing vocals never emerge in this ‘un and the track hammers down on its way home in a flurry of hardcore jabs that never shake one iota of their bleak malice.

The languid, night black guitar melodies of “Ava Maria of the Lice, of the Snakes, of the Worms” tremble in the throes of reverb, delay and echo.  Focusing on the psychedelic slow build with sparse drum beats, quick swells of volume that dissipate into nothingness and sheer ambience, I’m feeling some Morgion/Mindrot/Eyes of Fire influenced oddness here.  Mindrot’s “Incandescence” especially comes into view once every instrument congeals together to support the baroque clean croons.  Violin plays a prominent role, tastefully texturing the guitar work without getting cheesy; paving the path for piston-pressed doom riffs, hazy eyed harmony licks, polyrhythmic tom/kick workouts and expressive shouting vocals that sound like the work of a man severely hanging on the edge.  Eventually a vacuum of blackened sludge with higher, snarling screams sucks everything into the abyss, never to return.  “The Burden of Hope” marks the last of the acoustic interludes and the entrance of closer “Fleas of a Rat.”  Here they run the gamut, jumping every hurdle along the way; sludgy bottom-feeding riffs, psychotic blast beats, murderous cutthroat hardcore, progressive guitar atmospherics enveloping the haunting clean vocals, the fuckin’ kitchen sink man…

There is Nothing Left for me here should surely put Ether on the extreme metal map.  I’m frankly blown away by the mixture of styles heard on this disc without any of them getting lost in the musical blur.  Every feature of Ether’s genre spanning sprawl feels fully formed and there’s not a duff track in the bunch.  As a start to finish whole, this album is a beautifully repulsive, exhaustingly rewarding affair…a downright killer all across the board!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
September 8th, 2017

Comments

  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    dude the guitars on slow solo-ey part of the posted track, they are goddamn amazing. and the clean vocals are amazing.


  2. Commented by: Jay

    I know Nick! Ain’t that shit ridiculous? This album is fully formed in every area. I have no idea how they kept all of these differing ideas together but they did and managed to whip total ass to boot. Those divebombing melody vocals and huge, melancholy guitar leads/solos are unbelievable.


Leave a Reply

Due to the nature of the human race, all first posts are to be moderated. Don't whine about the delay. This is not a democracy.

  • Crimfall - Amain
  • Parasitic Ejaculation - Isolation
  • Crawl - This Sad Cadav'r
  • Zornheym - Where Hatred Dwells and Darkness Reigns
  • Usnea - Portals into Futility
  • Lord - Blacklisted
  • Gigan - Undulating Waves of Rainbiotic Iridescence
  • Thy Art is Murder - Dear Desolation
  • Cradle of Filth - Cryptoriana - The Seductiveness of Decay
  • Ether - There is Nothing Left for Me Here
  • Biesy - Noc Lekkich Obyczajów
  • Ursinne - Swim With the Leviathan
  • Sinister - Syncretism
  • Dyscarnate - With All Their Might
  • Just Before Dawn - On the History of Destruction