Rarely has a band been so appropriately named, instantaneously bursting into a tremolo fury of post-hardcore and black metal that can only accurately be defined as a deluge. Within the first few seconds of the opening track, “Avalanche,” which is just as rightfully titled, it’s fairly certain what one can expect from Aether. A few moments of brief respite develop as the storm lessens, and some notes linger in the air to reflect on what, exactly, just happened before the next downpour begins. It’s this formula that defines the whole album—one that is just as quickly exciting as it is exhausting.
Deluge is a sudden downpour of rain and, as stated, the title fits quite well. All throughout the album, rainstorm field recordings are often used to create atmosphere. In one word, Deluge can also be described as intense; rarely does it hold back, and when it does, it’s only to allow some space to breathe. Their sense of melody is often quite separate from more aggressive passages, simply allowing a few notes to fall with the rain before the screaming begins once again and the music falls back into the constant outpour that simply leaves the listener fatigued.
Neige of Alcest fame quests on one track, but this is nothing more than a chanting performance in the background, which was admittedly quite disappointing as I was hoping for some of the old screams that are missing on later Alcest to make an appearance. The beautiful cover work is worth noting: a stylized rendition of ocean waves, of course, that—just like the band name and first title track—accurately describe the music contained within.
Overall, Aether is enjoyable, but it lacks “staying power.” After a short while, it’s just another guy screaming at you in a monotonous tone with few dynamics and a lack of variance that would ultimately really help the album stand out in the crowd of other strongly hardcore-influenced albums.
At moments, when the rain lets up, the guitars create an atmosphere that gives the album just enough diversity to be interesting, however. It’s nothing astonishingly beautiful, but it is a break from what seems to be a constant stylistic choice that has, honestly, already been mimicked by countless others despite being described as a “post-” genre.
Still, Deluge is a band whose dynamics likely kick in more through a live setting rather than the flat space of an audio recording. I can feel this when a track like “Naufrage” kicks in. I can’t help but feel excited because the energy in the band itself comes through. Yet, at the moments when I am starting to get weary of Aether, something else happens that demands my attention. It’s that incessant attention division that is the album’s biggest downfall. Perhaps if the vocalist had a bit more to offer—some clean vocals or vocals that adequately fit the black metal sound they are searching for—Aether would hold more interest.
The longest song, the instrumental “Klartraümer,” reaches beyond the nine-minute mark, which is much longer than most of the tracks on the album. The piano pieces used here are nice, and it feels like this and the next track stand apart with these elements that are not as pronounced in other songs. The more ambient and atmospheric aspects are a nice break from the first half of the album, but it’s essentially a case of “too little, too late.” If you are a fan of something like Cult of Luna but also crave the speed and ferocity of Converge, then Aether is likely to strike a great chord with you. With some meatier riffs to hook you in and more variation on the vocal approach, Deluge could easily be a recognizable name in the years to come. For now though, I’m going back inside and finding some shelter; it’s only fun getting soaked in the waters of Aether for the first few moments.
03) Mélas | Khōlé