Oceans of Slumber
Winter

Back in 2013 I reviewed the debut from this Texas act, Aetherial, ( I missed 2015s Blue) and it was a challenging, engaging but exhaustive listen of progressive metal that had every genre and the kitchen sink in it. Well there’s been a bit of a line up change and a focus in delivery. Of note, former Insect Warfare drummer Dobber Beverly is still in the fray, in case you needed some metal credence. However, the most important change is the addition of singer Cammie Gilbert, who might just be one of the most promising new metal vocalists around.

The addition of Gilbert has allowed the band to hone their style of progressive metal in to a more focused, less spazzy, random sound and really expand the boundaries of progressive metal. Immediate and inaccurate comparisons are going to be made to Alexis Brown of Straight Line Stitch , but she isn’t like her or most female singers that’s either just eye candy or a soprano/operatic presence. She has a soulful, bluesy, jazz lounge voice that you could hear on any r and b radio station. Fear not though, the other members provide a few growls a screams here and there to keep things a little more extreme.

But for the most part, the  album is a smooth, svelte prog metal record. Even with a few blasts, growls and chugging metal riffs. That said the sticker on the CD cover citing Opeth (maybe viable on Aetherial), Everygrey, and Amorphis is a little misleading. One only look at label mates Karyn Crisis’s Gospel of the Witch for a more realistic comparison. And this is much more of a straight rock album leaning more towards Rush, Tool, and dare I say even Killswitch Engage or Evanescence (possibly why they are no no longer on metal-archives?) for an idea as to the album’s pacing and mood.  It’s a very controlled, restrained album with a somber, smoky mood, with only a few injections of death/black metal aggression littering the proggy, keyboard filled, introspective haze such a few moments of the title track, “Devout” or “Apologue”.

Regardless, the high light of the album is Gilbert. Her performance accentuates the album’s languid hues and softer textures. Sure, this is a metal album, but those looking for something truly extreme might look elsewhere, as this is much more engaging, enthralling and challenging listen with lots of softer moments, piano breaks, balladic moments and interludes. The opening title track will give you a good idea what to expect with soft, relaxing opening few moments and metallic peak and close. In fact, purist metalheads might gripe at the amount of softer ballad-ish material on the album, as the likes of ‘Lullaby, “Laid to Rest”, “This Road”, “Grace”, standout, “Turpentine”, “Good Life” and How the Tall Trees” make up a large, more introspective chunk of the album.

But there is some metal along with the aforementioned “Devout” and “Apologue” , even if still pretty laid back as “Suffer the last Bridge” “Sunlight” and my personal favorite from the album, cover of ‘Night in White Satin” add just a little more bite within the sultry, smoky haze. My only real gripe is that the production really doesn’t jump from the speakers. With a production like say Barishi’s self titled 2014 EP, this thing would have bee utterly alive. But this is still a pretty awesome if different, less metal band from the debut, but in a better way and one of the more engaging releases of 2016 so far.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
March 22nd, 2016

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