The Aerium was born in 2001 from the ashes of a project called Version, when female vocalist Sevostjanova Veronika and bassist Reshetnikov Igor completed the lineup. The band cut several demos before signing a deal with Greek label Black Lotus and released their first album Song for the Dead King in late 2004.
The Aerium is mostly comparable to Finnish melodic metal band Nightwish in that Veronika opts for an operatic vocal style through the entire album, supported by huge strings, synths, and orchestration courtesy of Grishin Andrey. However, that's where the Nightwish and Epica comparisons end, as The Aerium's music is strictly limited to the vocals and keyboard melodies. The rest of the members barely have a say in the direction of the music, and the weak production only serves to kill their contribution to the album. Imagine an 8-track disc with 40 minutes of music that revolves entirely around Veronika's slow operatic vocals with only the keyboards on display. The guitars lack crunch, the bass is barely audible, and the drum sound is the worst on the album. Just when hints of good ideas are detected, as on "Prayer", the song is destroyed with an amateur bass sound that is injected into the song out of nowhere. Also, I believe the guitar playing on this track is fairly impressive, but the recording is so thin that you can barely hear it. Veronika has a beautiful voice, alas a bit monochromatic. Six out of eight songs on the album are slow, midtempo ballads, and hardly differ from each other in one way or another. Synth melodies start the tunes, with some orchestration and string work thrown in randomly, and Veronika begins singing in her held-back, somewhat forced dramatic style, which I assume is not her favourite singing mode. The vocals are probably delivered that way to give the songs more depth, but I don't really think they enhance the quality much.
"Queen of Snows" has some male vocals for a change, but they are extremely low and sung in a whispered tone. This is far from the contrast most beauty and the beast bands like to produce, as the male voice proves nonexistent the second Veronika enters the tune. The double bass drum work on "Sentinel" could have made for a nice power metal track if the drum sound was more energetic. The most interesting song is "On the Pier", though a bit long for this type of music. It has interesting tempo changes and the drums actually have a good tone on this one. Even Veronika employs a multitude of vocal styles from high operatic to more midrange singing. The guitars are melodic and the song is the most bass-friendly of them all.
For a debut album, Song for the Dead King is average. If their next one fails to be more diverse, however, I don't think The Aerium can survive in a genre with so many bands exuding dynamic production and solid musicianship. Let's hope for the better.
- Song for the Dead King
- Queen of Snows
- Treasure Hunter
- On the Pier