Friday 6 September 2019

Eternal Storm - Come the Tide (2019)

Country: Spain
Style: Melodic Death Metal
Rating: 9/10
Release Date: 23 Aug 2019
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Hey, a melodic death metal band with a male vocalist for a change! That does seem odd to say but the dice have been rolling the other way recently in my vicinity. Eternal Storm hail from Madrid in Spain and they make interesting music. I liked this immediately, after a delicate guitar intro blew through a wall of blastbeats to find a perfect combination of melody and harshness. But then, a minute into the second part of the opening track, we're treated to a saxophone that doesn't feel remotely out of place.

I always know I'm on to something special when I find that I have trouble in composing a review because the music just captures me and won't let me free to actually write. It took three times through before I could put words down on the virtual page. I wonder how long this took the band to write, because there's so much here and it's ballsy. It isn't just the saxophone on Through the Wall of Light Pt. II, it's the clean vocals that precede and succeed it. It's the point later where the music retreats to a plodding bass line and a distant echo of guitars, with rain dominating the foreground.

Even as I enjoyed this ballsy approach, I could hear people complaining that this isn't what melodic death metal is supposed to be, but it's exactly what I'm looking for. You wouldn't believe how many melodeath albums I skip over for review because they're inherently the same as the last one and the one before that. I want something different. I want riffs and blastbeats, but I want textures and soundscapes too. I want stories in the songs and I want to feel them escape in front of me. I want this.

Another ballsy aspect is that this debut album runs just shy of an hour and that's ambitious. The two-part Through the Wall of Light opens up the album as a fourteen minute epic, a couple of other songs break the ten minute mark and only one of the eight on offer runs less than six. It's wild to realise that this is a debut, because the songwriting is notably mature, reminiscent of Orphaned Land in the way that it weaves melodies throughout the darkness. The band's name may highlight a focus on the storm, but the cover shows us that there's always light poking through somewhere.

One reason this feels smoother than most melodeath is that the guitars are a little low in the mix, even with a pair of guitarists. Another is that both of them, Jaime Torres and Daniel Maganto, also play keyboards. When it gets soft, they're usually the focus, picking with delicacy. When it gets brutal, the drums of Mateo Novati lead the way and Kheryon's deep but warm growl at the fore with them; the guitars are still playing with melodies.

Like a few albums this year, this is so consistent and so consistent in the way that it varies styles within each track that the tracks themselves cease to stand out, instead merging to become one hour long piece of music. What I find following me away from this album is the way that the band grow a sound that's harsh and dark but still beautiful. I don't suggest that you dance to it, but it's hard not to move to it. Maybe I'm adrift on that storm, but I'm not being buffeted about by its tumult; I must be floating in the eye with a majesty all around me.

Is The Mountain a better song than Of Winter and Treason? I have no idea. I find myself caught up in each of them and always wanting to explore more. I also find that, each time through, I argue with myself about whether I like the points when the heaviness gives way to peace or vice versa, and I can't make my mind up. Of Winter and Treason is sublime in the way it does both. The Scarlet Lake adds something close to death/doom and I grinned like a fool.

Some of my favourite albums of all time are those which I liked immediately but found deep enough to explore further on each visit. Beyond All Temples and Myths by Winds of Sirius is one such and the closest I'd found to that this year was Aephanemer's Prokopton, which was my March album of the month. Well, until now, that is. This feels deeper still, less driven by keyboards but just as driven by songwriting. It's exquisite stuff throughout and it'll take something truly special to deflect this from my September album of the month, especially as Insomnium's new album won't be out until October.

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