For me, 2014 was an incredible year for Death Metal. Several of my favourite bands released incredible albums, and I discovered many new artists. I was generally overwhelmed by the output of amazing albums that year. It is for those reasons that I never got round to listening to ‘Aethyr’ by Belgian/Dutch Extreme Death Metal merchants EMETH.

I first heard these guys about 5 years ago, and was impressed by what they had to offer back then. I must confess that I have not followed their career as closely as I could have, and I fear that this was a grave mistake, although according to their facebook page, they disappeared off the grid for a while. Given the sheer quality of their new release, I think a thorough exploration of their back catalogue, ‘Insidious’ (2004), ‘Reticulated’ (2006), and ‘Telesis’ (2008)) is warranted. Anyway, enough with previous releases, its time to turn the newest album up and have a listen.

Ridiculously enough, I often rate an album on the number of faces I pull, and the expressions of said faces. Trust me, there were stupid faces aplenty whilst I listened to this record! Emeth have forged a combination of Brutal and Technical Death Metal that delivers its payload with pinpoint accuracy and heavyweight aggression. One can hear similar stylistic moments akin to fellow countrymen Aborted and Leng T’che (vocalist, Boris ‘el Bastardo’ Cornelissen is a former member of the latter) but Emeth are no rip off band, by any means. They are their own entity, and this 10-track album is a fine testament to their skill, excellent musicianship, songwriting skills and ability to make the listener want to roundhouse strangers by whipping them into a death metal induced frenzy!

‘Aethyr’ opens up with a disturbing blend of noise, screaming, and what sounds like excerpts from horror films. ‘I Became Flesh And Dwelleth Among Thee’ gets the party going with its rapid pace and intricate riffs. It is easy to draw comparisons with fellow countrymen Aborted, they are in a similar sonic ballpark, but they are by no means clones. The production has a chunky feel to it, but at the same time, it’s got enough precision in it to let the technical aspects ring out.

Within death metal, “breakdown” is often considered to be a dirty word, a by-word for a lack of musicianship and boredom. It can be difficult for a death metal band to include such a section without some troll somewhere labelling them as ‘deathcore’. The truth is, plenty of the best death metal bands on the planet have included riffs like that in their songs, Decapitated and Fleshgod Apocalypse to name but two. When Emeth throw a breakdown into one of their songs, they do so masterfully, in the same way to two aforementioned bands do. They make it sound like it belongs there, and they make it really heavy!

‘Suffering Comes With My Name’ is one of my favourite tracks. I feel it is a good example of what Emeth do best. It’s full of groove, blastbeats and brutal guitar riffs. It has a really tasty guitar solo, the vocals are low and powerful. You can really hear and feel the bass parts (essential in DM, in my opinion). This song is just one from this album. They all contain these ingredients. If what I’ve just described is your kind of meal, then this is going to sate your hunger.

‘Eidolons of Ash’ starts fast and bloody heavy. Halfway through it slows, to reveal an equally heavy chugging section. I think that, for me, this is what I love about Emeth… their ability to change tempos effortlessly. They show off the many speeds that death metal can achieve, and they show that they can write excellent material at any tempo.

To summarise, this album delivers the goods. It delivers them with excellent production, musicianship, song-writing, artwork and style. It’s brutal, groovy, and technical in equal amounts. If I could re-do my top 20 albums of 2014, this would most certainly be in there!

Review By Andy Prowse


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