Essays In Rhyme On Passion & Ethics
posted on 8/2010 By:
As far as experimental bands go, Greece’s Ethereal Blue is one of the more interesting acts I’ve heard this year, melding an unusual blend of melodic death, fierce black metal and strangely post-hardcore influences into one elongated, uncompromising package. Directed by the vocal chameleon known as Efthimis V., Essays In Rhyme On Passion & Ethics volleys wildly between both extremes of light and heavy, and although I admire their gumption, I also find a bit of unfortunate (but essentially harmless) humor among these lengthy six tracks.
First off, the mix of genres into one cohesive package is a bit unsteady, taking the elegance of Opeth’s groundbreaking kaleidoscopic stance and mashing it up with, of all things, Starkweather’s hefty lurch and stomp, while pushing neither aesthetic to the breaking point. It’s the vocal delivery of Efthimis which specifically targets each differing vibe that makes this such a bumpy ride. His black/death screech is simply molten, resembling Rennie Resmini in style, but not necessarily in sound, but his mellower tones run the gambit between somewhat flat to totally lilting with an oddly feminine air. Occasionally, he breaks out a falsetto (“Mother Grief”) that is more Tiny Tim than Warrel Dane, throwing out odd gasping breaths that brings forth an unintentional chuckle from my chest. It isn’t the norm, however, as most of this album sees him utilizing powerful roars and a mid-ranged clean that fits perfectly among the acoustics and fragile melodies. When the conclusion of the robustly built “The Letter” finally arrives, the band launches into pure black metal with all cylinders firing in heavily Swedish-influenced malice, and the opening moments of aforementioned “Mother Grief” is distinctly Opeth-ian in nature, but the blend Ethereal Blue pursues is never more apparent as “Goliadkiin” tumbles between blastbeaten fury and cleaner moments wherein Efthimis utilizes pretty much every clean tone in his arsenal. Drummer Dimitris stands out during this final tune by exercising subtlety and a masterful ability to change tempo from out of nowhere with seeming effortlessness.
But these diverse elements aren’t exactly expertly executed from a songwriting level. The band lacks the adhesive threads that bind each tune into one solid piece of work, but to be honest, I really don’t think they’ve fallen terribly far off the mark. Perhaps if these dapper gentlemen focused more on making each separate element more conscious of each other, then things would have left me with a much more positive feeling of completion and focus. None of this is patchworked to death though, and the jarring differences have been thoughtfully arranged, yet jarring these differences still are, nonetheless.
Essays…is an often eloquent, extraordinarily sophisticated effort from a band that shows more promise than anything else, yet haven’t fully realized their potential or point of view in a way that sticks to your ribs. The hefty stomp and Resmini-channeling of “John Wood” has its moments, and the scant ethnic flair that arises during the trudging “Ethics” is certainly quite appealing. But Ethereal Blue could use a bit of a tweaking to balance the more accessible moments with the bruising might they also display, and their ambition is very apparent when taking all these flavors into consideration, so a more organized--but no less chancy--release is something I’ll be looking forward to in the future.
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