Ethereal Riffian - Legends review

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Band: Ethereal Riffian
Album: Legends
Release date: September 2019

01. Sage's Alchemy
02. Born Again
03. Dreamgazer
04. Legends
05. Kosmic
06. Unconquerable
07. Moonflower
08. Pain To Wisdom
09. Yeti's Hide
10. Ethereal Path

The members behind Ethereal Riffian claim to compose unconventional music. Up until this album, that statement was correct.

Legends, a straight up radio-friendly stoner rock album for its first half, fails in every way to challenge the normal confines of music, but it's not a terrible album. Misleading in its self-directed marketing campaign, sure. But if released by an outfit that wasn't responsible for the mind-bending psychedelic stoner doom trip that is Aeonian, this would probably be received with arms wide open. It's just such a shocking turn of events, radically different in all aspects aside from its stoner influence, but even that's tinged with a heavy early grunge vibe.

The raspy hard rock vocals are thickly accented, at times almost coming across as parody, but when you consider how most of his vocal attempts were restricted to humming, chanting, ooohing and aaahing, it's not too surprising that this area is the band's greatest weakness. They're the kind of vocals you hear at your local bar late at night. It smells like teen spirit, it's open mic night, and the guy wearing the leather jacket and smoking in the clearly marked no smoking area tries to cover "You Shook Me All Night Long." Now it's nice to think vocalist/guitarist Val Korniev trained diligently to be able to reach the notes he does on this album, but he has a long way to go if he wants to avoid being the anchor weighing this ship down. He has his tone and nasal technique down already, so improvement is just some vowel control and mouth positioning away from the next level.

Speaking of next levels, you really can't knock these guys for their musicianship. They're so obviously comfortable and considerably gifted with their instruments. The guitar work is especially playful and drops hints of the earlier experimentation displayed on the band's previous releases, but like a rat in a cage, it just fills me with rage thinking of what could have been. The talent is clearly there, the vision is there, the belief in a deeper level of consciousness is there, so why can't the great music be there too? At least the back half of the album gets to where the going's good, kicked off by "Moonflower," but the work you have to do just to get there is debatable whether or not it's worth it. If they dropped the first 5 tracks and started with "Unconquerable," almost every glaring flaw found on this album would disappear.

Legends is nowhere near what anyone was likely expecting from this band, but it's what we were given. While the first half is essentially "don't bother listening" material, the back half is significantly more interesting and brings meaning to the words of a band trying to buck the trend of conforming to norms. It's still bogged down by traditional formulaic rock for the most part, but they do a decent job of exploring their progressive tendencies within those confines. I for one just hope this deviation scratched an itch and we can look forward to some more exciting journeys through the cosmos again.

As an aside, "Unconquerable" gets an immediate thumbs up from me simply because I'm a sucker for the speech from the movie "Network" being referenced and that is something I'll stand by until I die.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 5
Production: 9


Written on 25.09.2019 by Just another opinionated guy telling you what to listen to.


Comments: 1   Visited by: 6 users
08.11.2019 - 15:07
Can't say the album is bad but it does feel like it's two different sides that don't completely make a whole. Both parts have their own merits but you are right in a sense that the second half is the more intriguing one.

No friends for playing games
No foes who scorn my name
Computerized machines of steel and rust
No friends in my house on Mars
No foes in my house on Mars
I was born in my house on Mars
I will die in my house on Mars
-- Ayreon - My House on Mars

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