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I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that. - 38%

Wilytank, April 15th, 2018

When it comes to bare bones basic air conditioner atmo-black metal, I'm puzzled how one album or band can stand out as better than the others and why one of those is Alpha Eri by Alrakis. The only real thing that sets this apart from the Summoning clones is the aesthetic. Other than that, the black metal component is nothing more than 35 minutes or so of fuzz. This is followed by 20 minutes of admittedly pretty sounding ambient music, but that's not enough to salvage this boring album.

The guitar work that comprises the first two thirds of this album is the same tremolo strumming that pervades through tracks 2 through five. It's accompanied by slow paced drums, a layer of keyboard, and some inoffensive basic black metal vocals. It sounds cool for the first stretch of "M20", but once you realize there's hardly variance it just turns into a big chore to get through. There's some sample thrown in near the start of "Sternenstaub" in an attempt to sound desolate with some higher sounding lead guitar thrown in when the twanging starts up again soon afterward, but these things don't help. Funnily, the album doesn't really get interesting to listen to until the black metal elements are cut out completely once "NGC 6611" leaving some very pleasant sounding space ambient from here until the end of the album, and yet the fact that this is at the end of all that preceding boredom just doesn't make it feel worth the perseverance.

This album is like finding a small nugget of gold inside a landfill. I do like good ambient material and that's what stops me from completely despising this album, but I'm going to give a weird look to anyone pushing Alpha Eri as a worthwhile black metal release. And I especially find it bizarre that people draw comparisons to Darkspace from Alrakis. The only thing that brings these two bands together is the spacey theme. Other than that, Alpha Eri is slow, sad sounding, has pretty keys, and is overall boring; all qualities that are not shared by Darkspace. Alrakis's atmospheric black ambient style was done better by Midnight Odyssey before Alpha Eri was even released. Go listen to that stuff instead.

WANDERING THROUGH DEEP SPACE - 96%

CosmicCult, March 31st, 2017
Written based on this version: 2011, CD, Self Mutilation Services (Limited edition, A5 digipak)

When it comes to cosmic black metal, Alrakis and Darkspace are the first bands that usually come to people's mind. Probably not the precursors of this subgenre, but definitely they are one of the standouts within it. While Darkspace displays a very aggressive and harsh style, venturing in the horrors and chaos of deep space, these German prefer to focus in the immensity and desolation of the unexplored universe.

In "Alpha Aeri", A1V majestically combines the basic elements of ambient black metal with drone synths to create a space atmosphere without comparison. Not only that synth mastery is Alraki's seal of identity but also the key to its success in providing the listener such an awesome and fulfilling experience.

The vocals are not the highlight of this album; they are effective, but nothing special. It is unlikely for me to like a band with an average vocal register (especially when it comes to black metal), but in this case, it is completely justified as they are meant to merge with the melody instead of standing out. The production is quite good, maybe A1V could have improved it a little bit, but hey! Black metal and a crystal clear production is an oxymoron.

The tracks come as a whole, not as a part; they have been meticulously placed in terms of efficiency so an alteration in the order wouldn’t have as much effectiveness. To some people this album may seem a bit repetitive as there isn't much pace and melody variation between the pieces of music, but to me that is the charm of "Alpha Aeri" a Magnum Opus within this subgenre.

Having said that, I can tell that my favourite songs (if I had to pick some) are "Gas und Staub zwischen den Sternen" and "M20". The first, being instrumental, is the most epic, evolving and captivating piece of the album; nearly ten minutes of melancholic slow-paced riffs interacting with very trance-like synths that perfectly capture the essence of this one-man project. The second one is one of the few that have vocals in it and is, without losing the album’s tendency, the purest yet depressing "black metal" song of them all.

This is a stunning debut album. A mesmerizing soundtrack to nothingness and a journey to the unknown. A perfect way to escape from the mundane world. Ambient/atmospheric black metal at its highest extent.

The beauty of loneliness in space - 90%

Urnoev, April 10th, 2014

While listening to atmospheric black metal releases, I do not often feel the sorrow transported with the music, which is intended most of the time, of course. It certainly is very prominent on this one, though. Sorrow can be chained together with other emotions like hate, envy, frustration, and loneliness, which makes it not very easy to listen to this stuff, but also gives it an indescribable beauty. And Alrakis manages to bring this combination of two seemingly opposite feelings to damn near perfection. And this one word just mentioned summarizes the album quite good: loneliness. An atmosphere is created where you can flow around in an endless universe with nothing but the stars around you... and it actually works for me.

Now, this is accomplished by a few simple, but effective choices made in the creation of this piece of art, the most significant being the use of long, stretched synthesizer sounds and slow, repetitive drumming, together with quite unimpressive, but professionally executed black metal riffs, so one might feel the endlessness and the lack of other things around you, an unpretentious, but effective style. Nothing is overly intrusive as these elements come and go naturally with each other.

The vocals are harsh and hardly understandable, as if someone would cry and shout in despair somewhere between here and nowhere in space. This is the way it should be and it fits the atmosphere well, although they could have been integrated better since they seem to overlap with other parts of the music. The lyrics, of course, surround the main theme - space - and contribute to the overall emotion of loneliness. And finally even the production is good...very good, considering this is a debut album of a band consisting of one member only.

The album is structured in seven long songs, each of them interesting in itself, but worthless without the others. Do not get me wrong, I only think the overall experience would lack some of its impact. When single tracks are listened to, you should take some time, sit down, and listen to this whole thing at once in order to maximize the enjoyment. This is also the reason why it is impossible to name a favourite track. The beginning felt a bit weird the first time I heard it, but was also fascinating, so wait and prepare for the sudden invasion that will convince you, no doubt. And when the two last atmospheric songs come and the music fades out, you will feel lonely, but also satisfied.

If I would have to name some flaws, it would be nothing but the already mentioned and one thing - as tempting and good this album might is, it is nothing really special or original in any sense. There are no huge surprises and no phenomenal or outstanding compositions, just a perfect mixture of the aforementioned emotions.

And this is what Alpha Eri seems to be all about.

Space and Atmosphere? Space and Atmosphere. - 99%

IndividualThought, March 8th, 2012

Alrakis is a German one-man band that plays an amazing amalgamation of ambient music and atmospheric black metal. His first album, "Alpha Eri", just might be the epitome of ambient black metal, for this is one of the best albums I've heard, ever. The atmosphere this album gives off is like no other. It actually makes you feel like you're floating in space. And that's not even the best part.

The songwriting is just magnificent. Every song on this album is strong, including the two final tracks, "NGC 6611" and "NGC 3242 (Ghost of Jupiter)", which are pure ambient tracks. The guitar playing here is phenomenal and so is the drumming. Both the drumming and guitar playing appear distant as if they are in space. The vocals are another highlight as they aren't as common as one would hope, but when they appear they shine above the rest. A1V's vocals are as depressing and beautiful as the ambient atmosphere surrounding them. He deserves more attention than he's receiving. This is music.

The highlights of this album are "M20" (probably the "blackest" track on here),"NGC 3242 (Ghost of Jupiter)" (ambiance like no other song I've heard), and "Sternenstaub." In fact, every song is a highlight.

The reason I didn't award this album a perfect one hundred is because I dislike samples. I just think they are unnecessary in the music, but hey, that might be right up your alley.

Get this album now! It's like floating in the dark abyss of space...a dark abyss of melancholy and ambiance. You won't regret a moment of it!

Nice space atmosphere - 89%

nilgoun, December 18th, 2011

First of all, I would like to point out the total playing time of the record that exceeds 56 minutes, which is quite impressive for a debut record. The playing time is distributed on seven tracks which results in an average playing time of eight minutes per track. If you think, that this overlength will cause monotony in the tracks, you’re totally wrong – at least if you like ambient music. As the record tries to capture the beauty of the universe, it’s quite obvious that the tracks resemble the “endless vastness” and therefore are a bit repetitive from time to time.

That doesn’t mean, that repetition equals something bad! Although, the fundament of the songs is reprised some times, there are new details every time which spices everything up. But how does the music of Alrakis sound? First of all, you have to state that the songs are held in lower till average mid-tempo and the basis of every song are long-drawn synthesizer sounds or equally long-drawn layers of guitar sounds. This fundament is supplemented through spheric sounds, ambient noises and of course the good old black metal riffing. Most of the songs are purely instrumental, but if there are vocals added, they instantly merge with the rest of the sound to form an incredibly thick unit.

The really slow drum beats are creating a sentiment of emptiness, while the guitars, as well as the synthesizers, are resembling the vastness of the universe. The production is well done, or at least as good as it has to be. The guitars are as undifferentiated as they have to. You could wish for a stronger distinction of the vocals or the drums but they are fitting the theme as well. To be a bit contradictory: There are some deductions as the vocals are overlaying the drums from time to time, but they are minimal!

Conclusion:

Alpha Eri is an incredibly thick, atmospheric record. Although, the transitions between the songs are seamlessly and there are some melodies that are akin, they are completely different at the same time and quite refreshing. The dragging orchestration resembles, accompanied with the sparsely sawn vocals, the vastness and oppressiveness of the universe, as well as its beauty. You surely need a faible for ambient music to like this record, as the songs may seem to be really eventless otherwise, but if you like this you HAVE to get it!

Originally written for http://threnodies.com