Aetherial is a death metal duo from Melbourne, Australia. In late 2020 they released an 8 track album titled “Nameless Horrors” which the band describe as “album is a collection of spells and stories outlining loss, despair, grief, retribution, ghosts and hope as experienced by Aetherial members Shep Sheppard and Cassandra George. “ Before we get to the album, I would like to point out the following – In 2017 Aetherial had a great single titled “The insignificance of us” which at the time really caught my attention and won me over instantly. A beautiful song for which a video was shot out in the Victorian Alps somewhere and there was a full band at the time. Now… that version of Aetherial was definitely cool and showed some really promising signs and left wanting for more.
Unfortunately, most of what they released since then has been disappointing to my ear. Just to put things into perspective, the guy who mastered the album who is one of the best in the metal game recently put a post stating: “I often listen to music and think: At what point did the artist listen back to this song and say “hell yeah, someone would definitely prefer to listen to this over silence!” “Although they did not relate the post to this release in particular, I could agree with that statement in general and this album does reflect some of that statement in my opinion. I sort of had to force myself to listen to this album. Let me explain…
The band describes their music as “dark, crushing and relentless”, which is correct. The guitars are heavy. Most of the guitar riffs are tremolo based with chugs in between and slight influences from other sub-genres such as nu-metal and modern metal in general. The bass follows the rhythm guitar most of the time which is a key component in achieving the heaviness. The drums sound heavy but programmed and unnatural to how a human would play some of the parts. The vocalist has very deep growls and there is definitely potential there, it’s just that the vocalist has only 1 mode and that is to scream their head off. You will hear that almost all sections of all songs have vocals on top of it which is over-the-top. Yes, it has heaviness, but when you zoom out and look at the bigger picture, the songs in “Nameless Horrors” for me are hard to listen to even as a death metal fan. The best way to describe it would be to compare it to a constant onslaught of put together- riffs and constant barrage without breaks and hardly any breathing space. When structured well this can be a good thing, but in ”Nameless Horrors” the combination of riffs and drums makes loose interest quickly and in terms of structure nothing gets emphasized, because everything is emphasized.
The music is really well produced. Some world-class people were involved and the band has a duo who has definitely put considerable effort into the production. You could say modern production, chugs, and heaviness, – it has all of that. If this was meant to be heavy, it has achieved that. In terms of the album concept, as the band describe it: “Nameless Horrors explores the thresholds of the human mind and soul“. I’m not sold. Unfortunately, the lyrics are very hard to understand. The overall sound is dark and the mood is sort of depressing. It doesn’t take much to work that out.
Solo (or duo) projects can often suffer from a lack of input, which looks like this could be the case. However, I digest. If I have come across as critical and negative, it is for the sole purpose that I believe in Aetherial’s potential to create something much better as they have shown to do in the past. In “The Insignificance Of Us”, although the vocalist overdid it on the vocals (as he tends to do), it is a still great metal song with an awesome chorus and an epic ending. Perhaps the band could benefit from a full crew of dedicated musicians and a more balanced (less vocal-focused) input into the songwriting. Things like more diverse drum & riff combinations, better melodies, beautiful leads that will forever stay in the listeners’ memory, well-structured songs where things build into a cool chorus and don’t forget to have parts with no vocals – they could really do miracles. The band should re-assess and come back with something more creative and diverse. There is definitely something there somewhere.
Release Year: 2020
Reviewed by Justin