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Ethereal Riffian: Aeonian

When I saw the cover art to Aeonian, I assumed I'd be hearing another highly-polished, Axe-FX'ed, djent release. With a name like Ethereal Riffian, assuming the type of music was rather foolish, I admit. Then I noticed four lengthy tracks (shortest at 7:37; longest at 12:09) and braced myself for some progressive rock of the indulgent kind. Lots of promotional info was sent with the music, including band bio, photos of the band and merch, CD artwork, links to YouTube videos. Ukrane's Ethereal Riffian (ER) want to take their listeners on a journey, transcending time and space.

At first listen, ER comes from a stoner-rock/doom angle. Track one commands your attention with heavy chording and bass bombs and, in retrospect, could be the speediest part of the whole CD. Vocal delivery by Val Kornev (aka Stonezilla) is in a lower register and sounds like a chant. Toward the second half of "Thugdam (Sensation)" the heavy groove and mantra-like vocal delivery gives way to an acoustic passage and leads the song to an end that features vocal and guitar melodies that sound Indian. The content of the lyrics touch on states of mind, meditation, mysticism, etc...

More heavy grooves appear on track two "March of Spiritu (Rise of Sheol)" - I'm reminded of Down - and headbanging is in order. Ample guitar solos are offered and some heavier vocals are delivered. With so much screaming and growling these days I'm relieved that the screams are the exception instead of the rule on this CD. There are a few slower passages that simmer down the boiling heft of these riffs (now the band name makes sense) but they are just short enough to gather steam and bring all the instruments back on board. Alexander Kornev (aka SAF) is one MVP of Aeonian on bass guitar; low and heavy and mixed so that no bombs are missed, plus some distortion makes the attack all the heavier.

"Wakan Tanka (Awareness)" begins with acoustics, drum kit and didgeridoo and slowly builds into an entrancing rhythm. The singing style seems to take a backseat to the lyrics themselves (the band plans to release a book with each CD so listeners understand ER's concepts). While not unlistenable my any means, a little more melodic variety in the vocals would benefit the songs. Dynamic breakdowns and harmonized guitar solos fill out this track.

"Anatman (Oneness)" opens with reflective quietness, sparse clean guitar and distant flute. Soon the slab of stoner doom falls and we're off again. More harmonized solos take us into the second half. Soon the rhythm stops and we've reached the end of Aeonian.

Not simply dismissed as a disc of stoner rock or simple doom metal, Aeonian by Ethereal Riffian shows a band pushing themselves to create conceptual depth along with their heaviness. Attention should also be given to the extensive variety of packaging options for this release (see Bandcamp link). It is obvious that ER wants to provide listeners with a well-rounded experience. I think they are on to something and with a little more variety and melody there could be great things on the horizon for this band.

Track Listing
1. Thugdam (Sensation) 07:37
2.March of Spiritu (Rise of Sheol) 11:33
3.Wakan Tanka (Awareness) 12:09
4.Anatman (Oneness) 11:39

Added: May 30th 2014
Reviewer: Ryan Good
Related Link: Band @ Bandcamp
Hits: 1889
Language: english

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