Aetherian – The Untamed Wilderness – Album Review

LFR175

Artist: Aetherian

Album Title: The Untamed Wilderness

Label: Lifeforce Records

Date of Release: 24 November 2017

If, like me, you have a penchant for beautiful, atmospheric, mournful and rich melodic death metal, then I am about to make your day. ‘The Untamed Wilderness’ is the debut full-length album from Greek metal band Aetherian and it is a quite sublime slab of melodic extreme metal, worthy of your time and full attention.

Taking their cue from bands like Insomnium, Omnium Gatherum, earlier Katatonia, Daylight Dies and others of this ilk, Aetherian deliver the kind of sombre melodic death metal that I find impossible to ignore. It may not be the most original blueprint in the world and the quartet do wear their influences on their sleeves for all to hear. However, when the end result is as good as this, I guarantee that you’ll not give this a second thought. You’ll just want to listen, absorb, and then listen again.

Formed in 2013, Aetherian is comprised of bassist/vocalist Panos Leakos, guitarists Angelos Maniatakos and Giorgos Evgeniadis, and drummer Nikos Parotidis. Their 2015 debut EP ‘Tales Of Our Times’ made quite a few ripples in the heavy metal underground and so, in many ways it is unsurprising just how good this record has turned out to be.

What is surprising however, is just how accomplished ‘The Untamed Wilderness’ sounds, not to mention assured, professional and, in many ways effortless. It’s like Aetherian were born to do this kind of thing.

I am generally ambivalent to instrumental intros to albums but within seconds of hearing ‘Clouds Gathering’, my interest is caught. I know that I am going to like this near three-minute composition and moreover, it tells me that I am almost certainly going to like the ensuing eight tracks that feature on this record. I say this because the melodic sensibilities are absolutely on-point, the atmospheres are bold and compelling, and the feelings that it invokes are strong, meaning that I connect with it almost straight away. The gentle acoustic guitar that opens the song and the record as a whole is really gorgeous; simple but expressive. And when it is built upon by further string orchestration to see it to an all-too-swift close, it sends a shiver down my spine.

‘The Rain’ swiftly follows and with it, brings the first taste of Aetherian’s extreme metallic sensibilities. My hunch was right, because I certainly do like the main event as much as the intro led me to believe I would. Epic, sweeping vistas are conjured in the mind as driving rhythms and a strong, melodic riff dominate the early stages. Despite the dark and sombre tones, there is a strangely upbeat feel to the music, as bassist/vocalist Panos Leakos introduces his gruff voice that sits somewhere between a deep growl and mid-range rasp. It has resonance and fits the music very well indeed.

As the track develops, the melodies come more to the fore, led by the guitar work of Maniatakos and Evgeniadis. The combination of slower, more mournful lead guitar lines that overlay the persistent rhythms is a nice juxtaposition, allowing the track to sound heavy and accessible at the same time. Occasionally, there’s an injection of groove too, to keep the composition interesting as it extends to just under six minutes in length, albeit appearing much shorter.

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A much slower, doom-tinged opening ushers in ‘The Path’, demonstrating the ability of Aetherian to mix things up a little. It isn’t long before those familiar driving rhythms from Leakos and drummer Parotidis return, to raise the tempo and the intensity. However, ‘The Path’ has a generally slower pace to it, more measured, allowing some big chunky riffs to appear from within the aggressive tumult.

The Katatonia influence looms large over ‘As The Veil Fades’ thanks to some pronounced lead guitar melodies that help to create an overtly fragile and melancholy vibe over which Leakos gurns passionately and under which the remainder of the band combine as one to offer an imposing and heavy, yet surprisingly smooth framework.

Other highlights include the anthemic ‘Shade of the Sun’ that features some of the strongest and most memorable melodies on ‘The Untamed Wilderness’, whilst also diving headlong into symphonic black metal territory in places as the pace is upped to something approaching warp speed. Then there’s the frankly amazing ‘Wish Of Autumn Twilight’ that starts quietly before erupting with restraint, panache and style into a lovely melodic section. And from there, it takes a few well-placed twists and turns, reprising the opening melodies and then blasting to an intense conclusion.

The beautiful acoustic-led mid-section within ‘Dark Earth’ has to be a stand-out moment for me also, particularly the way in which it is sandwiched by some of the most intense material on the entire album.

I find myself wishing that Aetherian had released ‘The Untamed Wilderness’ earlier in the year. That way, I could have spent longer getting to know its myriad of charms. The chances are that this deeply impressive album might well have then staked a claim in my end of year ‘best of’ list. That aside, I have to keep reminding myself as I listen that ‘The Untamed Wilderness’ is essentially the debut from Aetherian such is the quality and consistency that runs through it. Do yourselves a favour and acquaint yourselves with Aetherian at the earliest opportunity – I have a feeling that this is a melodic death metal band destined for big things.

The Score of Much Metal: 9

If you’ve enjoyed this review, you can check out my others from previous years and for 2017 right here:

2015 reviews
2016 reviews

Buried Realm – The Ichor Carcinoma
Almanac – Kingslayer
Von Hertzen Brothers – War Is Over
Witchery – I Am Legion
Cloak – To Venomous Depths
Elvenking – Secrets of the Magick Grimoire
Moonspell – 1755
Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black
Communic – Where Echoes Gather
Impureza – La Caida De Tonatiuh
Auđn – Farvegir Fyrndar
Beast In Black – Berserker
Serenity – Lionheart
Sorcerer – The Crowning of the Fire King
Daydream XI – The Circus of the Tattered and Torn
CyHra – Letters To Myself
Devoid – Cup of Tears
Ne Obliviscaris – Urn
Sons Of Apollo – Psychotic Symphony
Enslaved – E
Samael – Hegemony
Vuur – In This Moment We Are Free – Cities
Power Quest – Sixth Dimension
Iris Divine – The Static And The Noise
Daniel Cavanagh – Monochrome
White Moth Black Butterfly – Atone
Jag Panzer – The Deviant Chord
Vulture Industries – Stranger Times
Anubis Gate – Covered In Black
Protean Collective – Collapse
Cradle Of Filth – Cryproriana – The Seductiveness of Decay
TDW & Dreamwalkers Inc. – The Antithetic Affiliation
Caligula’s Horse – In Contact
Nocturnal Rites – Phoenix
Arch Enemy – Will To Power
Threshold – Legends Of The Shires
H.E.A.T – Into The Great Unknown
Dyscarnate – With All Their Might
Subterranean Masquerade – Vagabond
Adagio – Life
Paradise Lost – Medusa
The Haunted – Strength In Numbers
Serious Black – Magic
Leprous – Malina
The Lurking Fear – Out of the Voiceless Grave
Prospekt – The Illuminated Sky
Wintersun – The Forest Seasons
Witherfall – Nocturnes And Requiems
Tuesday The Sky – Drift
Anthriel – Transcendence
Decapitated – Anticult
Cosmograf – The Hay-Man Dreams
Orden Ogan – Gunmen
Iced Earth – Incorruptible
Anathema – The Optimist
Solstafir – Berdreyminn
Dream Evil – Six
Avatarium – Hurricanes And Halos
Ayreon – The Source
Until Rain – Inure
MindMaze – Resolve
God Dethroned – The World Ablaze
Bjorn Riis – Forever Comes To An End
Voyager – Ghost Mile
Big Big Train – Grimspound
Lonely Robot – The Big Dream
Firespawn – The Reprobate
Ancient Ascendant
Pyramaze – Contingent
Shores Of Null – Black Drapes For Tomorrow
Asira – Efference
Hologram Earth – Black Cell Program
Damnations Day – A World Awakens
Memoriam – For The Fallen
Pallbearer – Heartless
Sleepmakeswaves – Made of Breath Only
Ghost Ship Octavius – Ghost Ship Octavius
Vangough – Warpaint
Telepathy – Tempest
Obituary – Obituary
Fen – Winter
Havok – Conformicide
Wolfheart – Tyhjyys
Svart Crown – Abreaction
Nova Collective – The Further Side
Immolation – Atonement
The Mute Gods – Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth
Ex Deo – The Immortal Wars
Pyogenesis – A Kingdom To Disappear
My Soliloquy – Engines of Gravity
Nailed To Obscurity – King Delusion
Helion Prime – Helion Prime
Battle Beast – Bringer Of Pain
Persefone – Aathma
Soen – Lykaia
Exquirla – Para Quienes Aun Viven
Odd Logic – Effigy
Mors Principium Est – Embers Of A Dying World
Firewind – Immortals
Slyde – Back Again EP
Sepultura – Machine Messiah
Deserted Fear – Dead Shores Rising
Kreator – Gods Of Violence
Borealis – World of Silence MMXVII
Pain of Salvation – In The Passing Light of Day

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