Following on from 2015’s Ego Futurus EP, Aethereus come storming out the gate with Absentia. The Washington-based progressive, technical death metal band are back with an onslaught to the senses. Absentia hits all the right notes and supplies them with a good amount of flair.
“Cascades of Light” kicks Absentia off in brutal fashion; it opens with discordant noise, which leads into a thunderous track filled with scathing anger and blistering pace. A tricky bass-line rumbles throughout, with higher pitched guitars playing around a cacophony of double-bass pedals and a dark riff. Vance Bratcher leads the charge, his vocals ranging from the deepest growls to the highest screams. A wicked guitar solo kicks in towards the end before the track bookends itself with the same discordant sounds as in its beginning. It’s a mesmerizing experience right off the bat.
Not content with pure brutality, however, Aethereus throw plenty of atmospherics into the mix. “Writhe”, for example, features plenty of quiet guitar moments (before ripping heads off with a meaty riff). The moments of serenity work perfectly side-by-side with the devastating death metal on display. Hell, we aren’t only given your standard quiet-brutal-quiet stylings here. “Mortal Abrogation”, for instance, sounds like a piece from a classic symphony orchestra, depicting something grand, and powerful - a battle, perhaps? “The Pale Beast”, “That Which is Left Behind”, and “Fluorescent Halls of Decay” all carry the epic torch. It’s a joy to listen to all of Absentia’s parts coming together to form a quality whole.
It’s crazy how dark “Cascades of Light” can sound.
Despite the quality writing on show, however, Aethereus still have much to work on. The riffs, for example, while occasionally strong, could be far more memorable. The odd bit of clean-singing wouldn’t go amiss, either, despite how good Bratcher’s vocals are throughout Absentia. You’ll get a lot out of this album during your first few listens, but unfortunately, it is unlikely to stick in your memory for longer than a couple of months.
Absentia is a good record. It will blow you away with its sheer brutality and quality death metal vocals, but a lack of memorable riffs holds it back from being top of the line. You’ll like what you hear, but it sadly won’t stick with you for long enough.
Absentia Track Listing:
01. Cascades of Light
03. Mortal Abrogation
04. Fluorescent Halls of Decay
06. That Which is Left Behind
07. The Black Circle
08. With You, I Walk
09. The Pale Beast
Run Time: 41:39 Release Date: August 10, 2018 Record Label: The Artisan Era