Thursday, 19 April 2012

#151 Embers - Shadows

I've reviewed Embers before, and I can safely say that they're an interesting band. My attention now turns from the EP, which I reviewed last year, to their debut full-length album - Shadows, which was released in 2011.  Hopefully, my own journey through listening to metal has progressed enough since reviewing the EP for me to shine a new light upon the band's sound, and pick up on the bits I missed.

Taking Embers at a larger dosage than which is given in the EP certainly gives me more time to digest the sound which they produce - A well mixed combination of black-metal, doom-metal and crust punk. I'm not very good at distinguishing crust punk, so I'm taking Metal Archives' word for the last one. Whatever the precise pseudoscience behind the mix of genres, they're certainly in a pleasing ratio - The black and doom metal compliment each other very well, and the best of both is made apparent - the tremolos and lead parts have a strongly dark atmosphere, but one that is melancholy, as opposed to sinister. The kind of atmosphere which makes everything feel calm and slowed-down, but also carries with it a blistering intensity and epicness. The doom metal influenced material gives it a plodding, slightly more upbeat feel, and is also epic, but in a different way. The two "types" of epic atmosphere which the styles would create on their own combine interestingly, and are definitely a big factor in the band's uniqueness. The frosty-sounding keyboard, which reminds me of early Enslaved, runs through the whole thing, and adds a self-juxtaposing sweetness and a sorrow to all that it touches. Vocally,  the songs have quite a brutal edge, which you'd think might interfere with the beauty, but no - not at all. They add to the intensity, and do not detract from the atmosphere, in fact, clean vocals, I venture to say, might take something away from the band's sound.

The album has an organic feel, much like the EP - the production is a little better, a little cleaner, but it's still very real. The drums sound like drums should - that is, they sound like a guy with drumsticks is hitting them, which is much rarer in modern production than it by rights should be. Beyond that, I don't know a great deal about production, but the album certainly sounds right. The tone is top notch, and  everything which the band want you to hear is audible without having to mentally focus your hearing too much. The album is long, and is of the kind that you have to set-aside a little time for, otherwise it can prove a little unwieldy, but it manages at the same time to feel complete. It's certainly got a lot to it. Not a single track feels rushed, and all of them manage to be distinct and valuable in their own right, and yet still fit together and feel like a complete work. It's one of those albums which really is a journey.

I rather wish I'd listened to this album sooner - having reviewed the EP, I really took my time to return to listening to the band, and I'm glad I've gotten round to it now. They're doing a European tour fairly soon, as far as I know, and if you're anywhere near where they're visiting, I'd recommend it. To conclude, this really is a good example of how to make a well-constructed album, and has an outstandingly beautiful sound.

This is a 9/10.

Embers Official site
Embers on Bandcamp (The album is available for free - there's no excuse not to listen)
Embers on Myspace
Embers on Facebook
Embers on Metal Archives