I don’t often fall for death metal. There just aren’t that many bands in the genre that I find riveting or worthy of a second look for my personal tastes. But there are a few, and when I hear one that arrests my attention, I am absolutely thrilled. Poland’s Aether is one of the death metal bands that has that “it” factor, and their new album “In Embers” released on June 1st.
As I mentioned, Aether comes to us from Poland. The band includes Michał Miluśki on guitars and vocals, Michał Górski on bass, Krzysztof Wiedeński on keys, Krzysztof Grochowski on guitars, and Maksym Steć on drums. For the studio recording, Michał performed all the guitars, and Rolfe Pilve of Stratovarius, Wintersun, and Solution .45 performed the drums. You will also hear guest vocals from Vincent Jackson Jones, Artur Rosa Rosiński, and Aneta Sikorska.
The music here is what is known as melodeath. Yes, there are lots of harsh vox, though balanced with clean, and you will hear plenty of driving and distorted guitar rhythms. However, melody is still the focus, so every single song has a rich, vibrant melody at its core. On top of that, the music feels epic, colorful, and flourishing rather than being dark or morbid. Because of that, I would place them in the same group as Persefone and Ne Obliviscaris as far as death metal is concerned, but with a hefty helping of the epic folk metal of Wintersun, too. This combination works perfectly for my tastes.
When the band were submitting their album for review, the band mentioned that they believe they are the only band in Poland who makes this type of music. I think they are correct about that. Most Polish bands are more influenced by Porcupine Tree, dark rock, or now Riverside. However, I will say that I hear some of that influence here, too, especially in the melodies.
“In Embers” is really one experience from beginning to end. It flows organically and lavishly towards its goals, and so singling out tracks is somewhat difficult. Still, the album feels really good down to every melody and every rhythm, and you can tell that pure passion and ambition went into this work of art. It truly feels noticeably sincere in its approach.
I have a few favorite tracks, though. “Golden Eyed Fox” opens the album with lush colors and this feeling that you are starting something monumental. It really does sound ambitious and grand. “Elements” is an interlude that lasts about two minutes, and it really reminds me of Wintersun. It is soundtrack-worthy; and sounds mountainous and majestic, and I love every second. It leads directly into “Tale of Fire”, which keeps the same regal melody, albeit with more edge.
The album ends with my two favorite songs. “Insomnia” has an addictive guitar rhythm that weaves its way around the bombast, but the song also has an unmistakably eerie tone. “Dream” might be my favorite overall. It has all the edge and grandeur of the rest of the album, but the addition of Aneta on vocals really adds a haunting, ethereal quality. It ends the album serenely and elegantly.
Aether are just starting their trip into the musical world, but they are succeeding already. “In Embers” is beautifully wrought and ambitiously conceived. While I can hear their influences off hand at first listen, I think this project will continue to evolve their own sound and truly surprise us in the future. Keep an eye on this band!