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Mike Scheidt is on a bit of a Wino -like spree. His previous band YOB released four classy doom epics quickly between 2001 and 2005 and disbanded in 2006 after the rhythm section was tired of the touring life. So he finds a new rhythm section, decides wisely not to carry on with the same band name, chooses to tweak the sound a bit and overall releases one of the better albums of the year. Typical fucking Wino moves.
Middian is the name of the band and Age Eternal is their first album, released by MetalBlade who have been supportive of Mike through these changes. The album opens with Dreamless Eye, such an aggressive and fast statement. Agreed, YOB have had fast moments but this is a marked change not only on this song but throughout the album. Another important change is the addition of vocals by the new bass player Will Lindsay. Mike continues to do his trademark nasal, tragic sounding doom vocals but Will accompanies and complements him with his ballsy growls and this adds a new dimension to the band's sound. Dreamless Eye surely halts to the slowest of the doom speeds and by the end of this 9 minute something, one's nothing short of blown away by the complete style this band did that in.
The next song Blood of the Icons though is a more familiar story, at least with a clean intro followed by crushing doom riffs; but then things go crazy for the next 8 minutes in what could be one of the best doom songs of the year. He builds it up, he peaks the hell out of it and he calms it all down before hitting the peak once more with some wild guitar leads reminiscent of the last two YOB albums. This shit clearly has more complexity, chaos and aggression involved than before and though I love YOB a hell lot, I'm completely digging this change too.
Three songs follow in a similar fashion. The title song Age Eternal and Sink to the Center both lasting a little lesser and a little more than the 15 minute mark respectively with a brilliant 6 minuter called The Celebrant between them. Middian's Age Eternal is a great stylistic advancement with tip-top production. Expect nothing short of stunningly intense spacey stoner friendly power trio doom metal from this album and possibly get a little more than that by the end of it. Just hoping to hear a lot more from such a righteous act and that this isn't going to be shortlived like most of Wino's bands. Doesn't matter if you missed the memo on YOB completely, you can always catch up beginning with this one and going backwards.
I had never heard of Middian before when I saw that our radio station had received a promo copy. I was surprised to see that they were listed on this site, being that they were on Metal Blade records, a label that normally has generic metalcore bands. Needless to say that expectations were pretty low.
Yet, these expectations that were formed on a fairly accurate stereotype of Metal Blade proved to be incorrect. Instead of typical four minute songs filled with boring riffs, predictable breakdowns, awful yelling, and a lack of solos, I was greeted with a crushing riff and singing/yelling that was quite unusual, to say the least. When I saw that the CD only had six tracks, I figured this was an EP; on the contrary, the shortest song is six minutes while the longest is over fourteen minutes!
The riffs are doom with a strong stoner metal influence, while bits of songs that sound like acid rock pop up from time to time as well. And while the riffs aren't anything innovative, they are effective. Fans of Sleep will definitely find enjoyment with these songs, especially "Age Eternal," although nothing really measures up to the best that Sleep put out. The rhythm guitars also suggest a slight My Dying Bride influence in the minor-key chords. The solos are so subtle that I barely even noticed that they were being played the first few times. They're nothing flashy, but they fit the music perfectly.
The lyrics are few and far between and are seperated by long instrumental passages. They are pretty ambiguous for the most part, but fit the atmosphere that the music is trying to create. The singing, as mentioned before, is quite unusual. At times theres clean singing, mixed with occassional higher-pitched growls/yells, and even some higher pitched singing that almost sounds like it is being done by a female vocalist.
The main flaw of this album is that there is an almost Opeth-ian inconsistency between the riffs. None of them are bad, but the transitions between them don't seem to fit too well occasionally, kind of like Opeth's "Orchid", although the similarities between the two bands ends there. There are also no songs that would qualify as "great".
That being said, this debut from an unknown band is surprisingly solid. The riffs are really strong throughout and there are some great parts that are fun to headbang to ("The Celebrant"). This merits several listens for fans of bands like Sleep, Trouble, The Sword, and even Australian band Alchemist. A unique release from a label that seems to embrace mainly bands that all sound the same.