Album Title: Tale Of The Endless EP
Label: Black Lion Records
Date of Release: 5 February 2021
The subject of this review is another happy discovery, made via a recommendation that I am delighted to have followed up. Maestitium is the moniker of a one-man project, the highly talented Swedish musician and songwriter Elias Westrin. ‘Tale Of The Endless’ is the debut EP that Westrin has written, and upon which he sings, plays the guitar and handles the synths and orchestration. The EP also features the talents of studio musicians Anton Flodin (Deathbreed) and Nils ‘Dominator’ Fjellström (Nordjevel, ex-Dark Funeral) who handle the bass and the drums.
Although Westrin is Swedish, I immediately hear a strong Finnish influence to the epic melodic death metal on ‘Tale Of The Endless’. Insomnium are clearly the first name to pop into your head, along with a smattering of Wolfheart and others besides. The music on this debut EP might not be the most original but by heavens, it is some of the best I have heard within this genre. It is heavy and extreme but it is also incredibly melodic and immediate. In fact, the melodies are almost ever-present throughout the release, making the music sound even more epic and rousing than it would otherwise be.
That being said, the riffs are cold and frosty black metal fare when required, the drums deliver a showering of blasts and double-pedal brutality, and the gruff vocals of Westrin have enough bite to them to know that he means business. However, he also has a melodious clean delivery at times that conveys a certain mournfulness, echoed by the layers of synths that dance and weave their way through this all-too-short release. The use of acoustic guitars and quieter interludes isn’t overdone either. When they arrive, they enhance the sense of drama and power manifestly contained within the compositions, rather than dilute the intensity.
Comprised of only four songs it may be, but ‘Tale Of The Endless’ does more than enough to make us sit up and take notice. Actually, if you remove the quiet sub-two-minute intro piece, it’s only three compositions, which makes it all the more impressive just how much of an impact Westrin’s music has.
‘Morning Star’ is the first of the three metal songs and it wastes no time setting the scene for the entirety of this EP. As the guitars and drums immediately kick in, the pace is measured but the drumming is precise and commanding whilst the riffs have an effortless majesty to them, bringing an instant melody along for the ride, accented by some sombre-sounding lead notes. The mood is undeniably melancholy, but there’s a sense of grandiosity too, especially when Westrin’s clean voice enters the fray to offer a more folk-like quality to the track. The closing acoustic-embellished section is unbelievably epic, with the sound of a solemn bell in the distance for good measure. In the blink of an eye, the song is over and I’m grinning from ear to ear whilst shaking my head; is this really a debut from the mind of one man?
A gentler acoustic intro brings ‘Song Of The Freezing Wind’ to life. The synths and orchestration really soar as the rest of the instrumentation kicks in. Gruff and clean vocals duet on top of chugging riffs and elegant melody once the early grandiosity subsides. Actually, I’m not entirely sure that the grandiosity ever truly subsides, because the layers of instrumentation remain throughout, despite the apparent heaviness, darkness, or confrontational nature of the extreme metal that emanates from my speakers. If anything, this might be an even better song than the opener.
And with that, we’re on to the final song of ‘Tale Of The Endless’, which rips my face in half with easily the most ferocious drumming and fastest riffing on the EP. And yet, despite the undeniably heavy, aggressive visage, the song still manages to sound serene and effortless, created by more elegant melodies that tug at the soul. After the early flurry of intensity, there’s a short quieter interlude that then ushers in a slightly groovier, mid-tempo riff. The change of dynamics is a masterstroke, only serving to increase the sense of the epic of Maestitium’s music, as before long there’s a reprise of that insane early ferocity. Unless your heart is made of stone, you’ll start to crumble when all heaviness departs to allow a fragile piano melody to take centre stage. But never fear, because Westrin manages to rein in the emotion by returning us to a savage yet gorgeous soundscape where the coldness of blackened metal and the warmth of epic melodies converge for one final showdown.
I am so glad I listened to Maestitium because this debut EP is something I would have kicked myself for missing entirely. Without the recommendation on social media, I may have done just that, too. So, if you trust my word even just a little bit, I urge you to track down ‘Tale Of The Endless’ as soon as humanly possible. Listen to it, be impressed, and join me in waiting impatiently for a debut full-length. On the basis of this EP, that is a prospect that already has me salivating.
The Score of Much Metal: 92%
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: