Aethereus
Leiden

So after an absolutely ridiculously good year for tech-death in 2021 with the likes of First Fragment, Obsidian I, Obscura, Hannes Grossman, Inferi, Stortregn, Alustrium and others, it took exactly one month for 2022 to see its first stellar tech-death record.

Leiden (suffer or endure?) is the second album from this Tacoma, Washington act who released one album under another moniker Seker back in 2014 before releasing Absentia in 2018, also on The Artisan Era, the perfect fit for these guys and their choppy, twangy, stuttering, but hefty, progressive take on death metal.

What also caught my attention (having not heard Absentia), is that Aethereus feature two members of The Devils of Loudon (vocalist Vance Bratcher and bassist Scott Hermanns), newly signed to The Arisan Era, and one of the more promising US bands I heard way in 2016 with their Enduring Creation EP.

So while this is the less ‘symphonic’ and more purely technical of the related bands, there are some innate similarities due to the shared members.  Aethereus does utilize some keyboards here and there such as the violins and strings in opener “Aberration” or some piano work in “Endless Cycle of Rebirth” and some random orchestral injections here or there a la Soreption (i.e. ” Shrouded in Kaleidoscopic Skin”, monstrous, ambitious, 9-minute closer “Upon Infinite Seas”, ). But for the most part, this is modern, fretless tech death metal akin to peers like Beyond Creation and some of their other label mates. I’m also reminded of last year’s Alustrium record, A Monument to Silence, due to some sneaky clever melodies and chord progressions that remain more memorable than tech-death usually is.

Despite the occasional ethereal keys, tracks like “Endless Cycle of Rebirth”, “Behold, The World Eater” and “Leiden” still go for the jugular. Also, they can deliver a pummeling mid-paced stammer as heard on personal favorite ” Shrouded in Kaleidoscopic Skin”, 9-minute standout, “The Living Abyss” or “Son of a Nameless Father”. And for you shredders out there, there is plenty of insane noodly, fretwork and solos, including plenty of guest solos from the likes of Mike Low and Malcolm Pugh (Inferi) and Sanjay Kumar (Equipoise), (as well as some guest vocals from Michael Alvarez of Flub and Kyle Rasmussen of Vitriol).

Like I said in the opening paragraph, Leiden is a scorchingly good, steller tech-death record, that delivers a wide range of pacing, variety, and subtle orchestration, as well as top-notch skill, and it sets the bar pretty high for the genre just one month into 2022.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
February 15th, 2022

Comments

  1. Commented by: Hammersmith

    This release is great, but so is the Devils of Loudon LP that just dropped.


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