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Æther Realm is a band from Greenville, NC. They have it prominently displayed on their official Facebook page that they "ARE NOT FROM FINLAND". Joke aside, they might as well be, because there are certain Finnish bands that really should be envying what these guys are doing. But first, a little back story. I heard about these guys through the vast seas and reaches of cyberspace a few moons ago, and then I realized they were on tour with Warseid, Wilderun, and Earthen. They came down to the odor-infested town of St. Louis, Missouri, and my band, Eternium, offered to open up for them. Their set consisted of some of the most impressive stage performance, appearance, and gear. Custom lighting and extreme proficiency ablaze, their set completely ruled. I am not, however, here to review their set, no matter how impressive it was...
...However, the full length impressed me even more! The whole thing starts out with a somber keyboard melody that leads into total turmoil and happiness that really borders between pride, sadness, and total power. It's incredibly proficient in taking both passages of folk metal and melodic death metal into one nice wrap that's borderline melodic black metal. Not only that, the musical influences outside of metal are very apparent, yet flow seamlessly like water. The drums, guitars, and voice work together to give a sort of "underwater" feeling. I am unsure what they did with the production to make it like this, but it is one of the best I've ever heard, and I mean that whole-heartily.
The guitars are extremely up my alley. Instead of playing boring power chord after power chord, Æther Realm have a very diverse way of writing melodies. Ranging from the depressing/proud hymn of "One Chosen By The Gods" to the extremely major-scale influenced "Ravensong", the guitarists are proficient in nearly every aspect. They can easily be molded to any emotion or atmosphere they wish to craft. In fact, I think the guitars (and bass) are pretty much perfect here in every aspect, production and creativity. Perfect audio mix and passages for every player to show their proficiency while still providing interest to the listener.
I'd like to take this time to commend the EXTREMELY awesome clean vocals and keyboard duo marriage this band has going. What they did was simple; have the clean vocals and keyboards play the same melody. However, the result seems much more technical than that. It sounds as if a realistic choir and orchestra was in front of you, relaying the tale of whatever bard the songs are about.
The drumming; now this is one that's good, but could be better and perfect. My biggest problem is that it seems like the levels were entirely mucked up. You can hear the drummer play these skilled and unique rhythms, but not as well as you could. For example, when I'm listening to the blast beat sections throughout the album, I can barely tell that it is one. This problem, thankfully, is only apparent on "faster" parts of the drumming.
All in all, I really do believe this is a great album. I would say it matches up to par of Sacrilege's Lost In The Beauty You Slay with some Wintersun-esque keyboards and better production. If it wasn't the present day circumstance, I'd say that this album may get lost in the obscurity like most albums it's style, never getting the attention it really deserves. These guys have a very good grasp of what they're doing, though, and I can easily see them climbing even higher on the ladder of success and talent, and when/if they do, I hope to play a show with them once again!