Ethereal Tomb
When The Rivers Dry

I have no problem feeling depressed or sad. Just ask my therapist! I don’t need a band or music to make me feel miserable, yet I seek it. Why? I don’t know, maybe ask Ethereal Tomb and their brand of sludgy doom.

According to a quick search, this is the Canadian duo’s second full length of depressing, thundering doom/sludge. What reasons do Canadians have to be depressed with their universal health care? Wait, don’t dive further into that question, but into the album instead, starting with the title track, “When the Rivers Dry.” It’s a plodder with a fat, thick (not thicc, children) guitar tone. It’s loud and gnarly. You’ve been warned.

“Born into Pain” keeps everything going with a similar nasty vibe, but it certainly starts slower. It’s also a longer track at over 5 minutes. I mentioned that depression and sadness earlier, and the first line of this song is; “How am I expected to thrive… when I don’t want to be alive?” The main riff is based on a simple drum line and some lingering feedback, which is effective. The chorus is “Born into pain. To suffering, we are chained.” Simple, effective, and accurate. Near the end of the track is a clean-picked section, with the chorus whispered.

“Save the Man,” which is track 5, is lengthier at 6 minutes. Another thick riff and simple drumbeat carry the song, which is the norm on the album. After the spoken word section around 3 minutes in, the riff feels a little heavier. This happens after each spoken word section, with a few on the track. What’s a little different are the layered vocals, giving them a deeper tone near the end.

“Reclamation, the track immediately afterward, follows essentially the same formula as the ones preceding it, minus the atmospheric section in the last minute. That short section segues perfectly into the next track, which is a spoken word/interlude/reprieve before the closer.

God damn it, the closing track is over 10 minutes.

I hate to say it, guys, but this is fine. I don’t love it, though. It has the feel of a duo with ambitions, and some chops, but the combination of the steady pace with few speedier or heavier moments blends it all. I begrudge no musician for writing and recording the type of music they enjoy. That’s kind of the point, isn’t it? I will be interested to see what they do next, but for now, it’s a pass.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
September 14th, 2023

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