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Äera - Schein - 94%

Edmund Sackbauer, January 14th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2019, CD, The Crawling Chaos Records (Limited edition, Digipak)

The first aspect that drew me into the work of Äera was the stunning cover artwork. The picture is slightly disturbing but very picturesque at the same time. You feel like staring into another world which is breath-taking but also might hide some dangerous secrets as well and the choice of colors used underline this impression. This band consists of four talented musicians hailing from NRW and as far as I understood the same bunch of guys also play in the death/thrash combo Xternity which has been put on hold to work on the debut of Äera called “Schein”.

The typical tremolo picks and the pummeling blasts can be found here as well and build the basis of Äera’s music. While each black metal band puts a lot of emphasis on building a sinister atmosphere these Germans have gone even a bit further compared to their peers. You could probably even label this album as atmospheric black metal but don’t fear - the main focus is still on the riffs and the relentless drum attacks. However, there are a lot of desperate and haunting harmonies dwelling in the background. Eerie themes presented by the lead guitar are always present – sometimes more subtle and in other places as leading elements defining certain parts of the song.

One issue I often have with black metal is that a lot of bands seem to think it is enough to play and look as evil as possible. This is not the case with Äera as they perfectly know how to piece together all the elements to weave intricate yet highly enjoyable soundscapes. The listener will get hypnotized by dark and powerful themes and melodies. There is a great amount of melancholy defined by the guitar harmonies in each of the songs and by repeating similar trademark lines in later sections the whole album gains a lot when being consumed in one go. The songs are professionally constructed and while there is a lot going on there are enough hooks and clear song structures to make the music pretty easy to get into.

The songs are very full of smaller and bigger surprises and while there are quite a few atmospheric passages and some tempo changes within the single tracks the songwriting always stays focused. The single tracks can be easily enjoyed and while they gain when being consumed with earphones or on the home stereo without distraction you can also play this record e.g. in the car or during your workout.

The production is pretty much flawless with the guitars and drums sounding powerful and punchy. The mix is perfectly clear making all the details and different elements easily audible. While some might argue that black metal needs more rawness I think that “Schein” highly benefits from this approach. I am glad to say that the label The Crawling Chaos Records and the band decided to offer an absolutely premium digipak edition. The optical value and the hands-on feeling of this product is outstanding and something you won’t find too often in such a quality. All in all this is an album that should find its way in physical format in the collection of each fan of atmospheric and melodic quality black metal.