Lysjakt - Ethereal Palace review
|Release date:||May 2021|
01. Stranger Aeons
03. Death May Die
04. Leave The Light
05. Ethereal Palace
06. The Graveyard
07. Tidens Hånd
08. Cthulian Sleep (The Impending Doom)
One of the perks of becoming a huge band in metal is that, even if you decide to take a divisive musical direction, there will be a wave of bands inspired by your music that can explore what might've occurred if you'd taken a different path.
Lysjakt is a one-man project helmed by Marius Ofstad, formerly of Art Of Deception (who have previously released a song titled "Lysjakt"). If the surname Ofstad seems familiar, you may be a fan of Kvelertak, as Marius is the younger brother of their guitarist Maciek, who actually makes a guest appearance on the record (along with several other musicians, including Equilibrium's Skar). Kvelertak isn't actually the band I was referring to in the top sentence, however; whilst they're clearly an influence on parts of Ethereal Palace, the band whose shadow most obviously lurks over this debut record from Lysjakt is Mastodon.
Ethereal Place is a short, sharp debut: 36 minutes of filler-free engaging proggy sludge. I'd say the influence of Mastodon can be heard quite early on Ethereal Palace courtesy of the Americana-influenced guitar solo that carries introductory piece "Stranger Aeons". Beyond that point, there are riffs, licks and solos throughout much of Ethereal Palace that bear the hallmark of the work of Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher, both in their earlier Leviathan/Blood Mountain and more recent The Hunter days; if you need convincing, just listen to "Death May Die" for examples of pretty much everything I've just mentioned. Nevertheless, whilst it's an easy comparison to make, Ethereal Palace isn't defined by these parallels. Ofstad draws from other bands and styles ranging from hard rock to death metal, equally content to march forward in a mid-tempo stomp as blitz ahead with full-pelt riffs, each style ably combined with his hoarse barks. The trudgier moments work fine, but I feel Ethereal Palace lights up when the pace is faster or the sonic palette is brighter, such as during a melodic break late on in "Irongod" that affords Ofstad the opportunity to rip into a rockabilly-style solo.
Mastodon is the most obvious reference for the sound on Ethereal Palace, but it's not universally relevant. The most notable exception is "Tidens Hånd", a song that it would surprise no one to hear was created by someone related to a member of Kvelertak; I can only assume that this is the song that Maciek Ofstad guests on, as once it gets going, it kicks into a groove that could well be one discarded by Maciek's band. Additionally, the intro chug to "Leave The Light" and later moments in the same track run closer to the sound of Gojira than either Mastodon or Kvelertak. Perhaps a less predictable reference point is Amorphis; however, I dare you to listen to clean vocal section late on in "Leave The Light" and not hear a resemblance to some of Tomi Joutsen's work with the Finnish titans.
The musical lineage of Ethereal Palace is easy to trace, but there's plenty of bands that try to sound like Mastodon and/or Kvelertak without producing anything nearly as good as this. What Ethereal Palace lacks in originality it makes up for with great songs filled with compelling riffs, complex-yet-smooth structures and exciting little musical detours. The highlights for me would probably be "Irongod" and "Leave The Light", but the album as a whole is reliably enjoyable, with a great guitar moment never far away.
||Written on 01.06.2021 by|
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