Aspherium - The Fall Of Therenia review
|Album:||The Fall Of Therenia|
|Release date:||September 2014|
01. The Fall Of Therenia
02. The Revenant
03. Broken Beauty
04. Guardians Of The Gates
05. City Of Stone
06. Regret And Eternal Sorrow
07. Warden Of Eons
09. As We Light Up The Sky
10. Reality Unfolds
Remember grade school social studies? Me neither. But there are a few topics that I still recall. One of them is the theories of acculturation: salad bowl versus melting pot. In short, a melting pot society is one where immigrants meld into the majority culture and adopt its principals whereas a salad bowl society is one where cultures mix while maintaining their distinct traditions. I have found that this theory also applies to a lot of metal music. While much modern melodeath suffers from a certain bland, sameness; Aspherium's The Fall of Therenia is truly a salad bowl of a space odyssey.
Regarding musicianship, everyone does a stellar job. The drumming provides a sick variety of textures and technical patterns, the bass makes some occasional standout appearances, and the vocals display some diversity even if they aren't particularly noteworthy. But it is the guitars that I am compelled to focus on. They are some of the most exciting in the genre I have heard in some time. Those who enjoyed another excellent 2014 melodeath album, Bloodshot Dawn's Demons, may find themselves even more impressed after hearing progressive shredders like "The Revenant" and "Landfall."
While the untrained ear will only hear the typical tropes still at play, there is a veritable galaxy of seamless genre mashing going on. Thrashy chuggers will give way to Enslaved-sounding chord structures. Leads akin to early Metallica lead into Spanish guitar solos. Blackened death, 70's prog, symphonics, cyber aesthetics; the list goes on and on. And while some releases end up feeling recycled and gimmicky in their fusions, the songwriting is masterful enough that each track manages to have its own distinct sound.
But if you are going to live in a salad bowl society, the real question is going to be one of any prospective immigrant: will I enjoy living there? The answer for me is a resounding yes. I have already put up my lawn gnomes and white picket fence. The lyrics can be a bit cheesy, but they remind me of early Coheed And Cambria in their narrative structures and anthemic qualities. This is a concept album, to be sure, but it is presented in such a way as to not distract from the music. You can take it or leave it. It is the pacing and energy that caught my ear from the very first listen.
As I write this months later and am listening again, I still have the same reflexive compulsion to move. I tend to prefer my albums around 45 minutes, and anything over an hour can wear thin if not done just right. Yet at 70 minutes, I would never call myself "bored." There are some problems here and there: the cringe-worthy clean vocals later in "Reality Unfolds," the somewhat sub-par chorus of "Guardians Of The Gates." But for every two steps back, there are fifty more forwards.
Final word: this is one salad bowl that doesn't skimp on the ranch. Even the staunchest of meat-eaters will be ready for seconds. Insert third obligatory food joke here. From the innovative genre fusions to the stellar musicianship and sense of energy, The Fall Of Therenia is a must-listen album of 2014. Considering this is only the group's sophomore effort, I can't wait to hear what might come next. At the time of writing, the album was streaming on youtube. If you like what you hear, hop on over to their store and buy the album. I went ahead and paid extra for the digipack given the lovely artwork. Nice guys too, they even threw in an autographed picture.
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