1. The Starlit Altar
2. Rosary of Midnights
3. Flesh Once Divided
4. In Blood Wisdom
5. With Determined Steps
6. Path of Ordeal
Aethyrick are a Finnish black metal band on The Sinister Flame label who will be releasing their latest album ‘Apotheosis’ on 22nd January, 2021. It will be available on CD and vinyl LP formats. It follows 2018’s ‘Praxis’ and 2020’s ‘Gnosis’ and it brims with magic and mysticism. It also sees the band going from strength to strength. Whilst is makes no huge changes to their much admired sound, the songwriting has been improved and the atmospheres have been expanded upon. It is grander, vaster and even liberating and the riffs burst with passion and power. The album cover art was done by Timo Ketola, one of the last works he finished a week before his tragic death.
Despite all the positives, this is just another black metal band that sounds pretty much exactly the same as so many of their contemporaries. Sure it’s dramatic, even epic at times, but for the love of God (or Satan) please be more adventurous! Screechy singing, blast beats, tremolo picking, etc. If you’ve heard just one BM song, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. Intro song ‘The Starlit Alter’ does build quite nicely – as do all songs – especially in the end, but as it starts to get really interesting, it fades away! Despite the fact it’s 8 minutes long, it could probably do with another couple of minutes or so. At least it never gets boring which is admirable. (Then again, many fans of this genre will be used to a fair bit of repetition). The guitar melodies on ‘Rosary of Midnights’ and some others are pretty cool in places, and they fit the harmonies nicely. The keys always add an effective atmosphere when employed, without being at all lame, pretentious or proggy. It’s just a shame the songs have to go back to more cliched ideas after their mild experimentations.
The middle section of ‘Blood Wisdom’ onwards has some particularly strong harmonies with the bass guitar playing a more independent and creative role than previously, and when the keys are introduced thickening the sound even further, a dark euphoria is created. I would go as far as to say the writing is first rate in that case. Again, far from over complicated, but it certainly doesn’t need to be. Perfect black metal if you’re into that classic Burzum sound. Final song ‘Path of Ordeal’ has a very strong pre-outro section with the bass getting more impressive parts and complimenting the rest of the band expertly, but whilst there is nothing wrong with being made to wait for highlights, they arguably should have been more developed. Shortly after those parts and concluding the album, acoustic guitars enter giving a poignant feel, but as they only appear on the LP once, they feel a little out of place.
In conclusion, this is far from anything new in any shape or form. However, the ethereal keys were a genuine highlight for me. They didn’t completely save the music, but the way they contrast with the super harsh backing; the way they are not over complicated, but rather simple and spooky; and the way they are far from too polished makes them quite intriguing. You also can’t deny the fact the songs always build well in the end, even if they are sometimes a little slow to get going. If only all tracks were as good as ‘Blood Wisdom’, I’d probably have to give this album a solid 4.5 stars, if not more. They aren’t quite Drudkh level for the most part, but if you’re into that (relatively, I mean) complex sound, as opposed to the more mindless, ‘Deathcrush’ era Mayhem, you might appreciate Aethyrick. Sort of recommended…