Deathwhite – Ethereal

Deathwhite band 2014

Looking for something intriguing with a fresh breath but still holding that raw edge which suggests that impressive early days have the potential to lead to major encounters? Then try checking out the Ethereal EP from US dark melodic metallers Deathwhite, a striking blaze of inventive and superbly crafted songs which rigorously capture the imagination and ignite the senses. The debut release from the band is an honest and striking introduction to the band, one unafraid to show its honed and less polished edges. It is also an encounter impossible not to get excited about as dramatic landscapes pull the listener into immersive and provocative explorations which leave senses and emotions as keen as a swiftly established appetite for the band’s sound.

Deathwhite was formed in 2012, its secretive line-up already well-established in extreme metal bands. The project is a vehicle for its members to explore new avenues, taking inspirations from the likes of Katatonia, mid-90’s Paradise Lost, Alcest, In the Woods, Green Carnation, Antimatter, and early Anathema into their emerging invention. Despite a semi-aborted EP which the band began last year, Ethereal is the unveiling of the band. Recorded at Pittsburgh’s Very Tight Studios with producer/engineer Matt Very earlier this year (with its closing song recorded in the fall of 2013 at a different studio), the six-track proposition takes little time in making a rich impression and placing Deathwhite deeply into the gaze of attentions radar.

The release opens with its title track, a brief instrumental crafted by expressive guitar with emotive melodic hues. It is a thoroughly Deathwhite Ethereal coverengaging entrance to the EP which hints at things to come without revealing too much, similar to the band’s presence online. What does swiftly come next is a glorious rhythmic incitement as the following When I (Wasn’t) You bursts into life. Roaming beats of drums make a punchy bait without being demanding, continuing their impressive coaxing as guitars gently and then with a fiery breath swarm around them. It is a dramatic mix which sets up an instant appetite for the song; one soon fed by the roving emotive prowess of the guitars and deep throated shadows from the bass, whilst strong if also at times unpolished vocals unfurl the narrative. As contagious as it is melancholically imposing, the track almost stalks the imagination as it virulently infects the passions. Individual skills are openly appealing as is the united tempest of their creativity and though the production is also raw in its touch it tempers its less forgiving side by empowering a greater growl to the riffs and sonic endeavour to further feed ears.

The strong start to the release continues with the equally impacting Give Up the Ghost. Another caustic wash of sound brings its heart into view, making way for a flowing melodic breeze around charged vocals. It brings essences of Tool and in some ways Karnivool to the mix, though they are mere whispers of spice within the expansive roar and intensive almost portentous air of the track. Though it fails to match the heights of its predecessor, the song adds further colour and variation to the songwriting and potent sound of the band, a new avenue to their growing scenery of invention and skilled designs within the release.

The following Silenced prowls around ears with a sinister yet seductive lure, its keen gait a spark to the brooding vocal and lyrical wrap which draws greater hunger towards the fluidly shifting ground of sound. It is possible to suggest favours of styles within Deathwhite songs as here, but impossible to pin it down into a description which truly represents the creative emprise the band offers. It is a refreshing and intrigue fuelled potency which adds to the promise and already sturdy stature of their sound, as evidenced again in the next up Feeding the Illusion. Erupting with a sturdy rhythmic weight and flame encrusted sonic heat the track is soon enveloping the vocal croon with a blistering torrent of incendiary melodies and driving riffs, all caustic to the touch and rigorously gripping. As the previous song, it suddenly slips into unpredictable asides, progressive and post metal additives colouring the adventure as one terrain seamlessly turns into another. The track from its strong initial engagement persistently grows in the passions, becoming one of the lingering exploits of the release.

Closing with the rugged and slightly corrosive A Burden to Carry, another heavily enticing and thrilling track which needs a better productive to thrive in; Ethereal is an immense base camp for Deathwhite as they start a certain ascent. As mentioned the release has its issues, the similarity of some passages of riffs between songs defusing their individual potency at times another, but like any other ‘niggle’ it will evolve and work itself out in time. This is a band with the armoury and invention to make waves; we wait with interest whilst basking in their impressive debut.

The self-released Ethereal is available now @ http://deathwhite.bandcamp.com/

8.5/10

RingMaster 01/07/2014

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Vertigo Steps: Surface Light

The new album from Vertigo Steps is a release that immerses itself deeply inside you as you fall within its own thick expansive atmosphere and close enveloping sounds. Surface Light forges and instigates a full union and experience that leaves the senses empowered and alive whilst searching for a deep breath with which to fall under the mesmeric towering sounds again. The album is an enterprising and formidable release which brings essences of rock, metal, and progressive rock into a compulsive sky of melancholic atmospheres and warm emotive clouds that stir and incite the emotions.

Surface Light is the third album from the Portuguese / Finnish project which was formed predominantly as a studio project in 2007 by Bruno A. (Arcane Wisdom). The project grew with Finn Niko Mankinen (ex Misery Inc.) joining to give a core duo to the band whilst they also brought in guests for recordings. A debut self titled album in 2008 drew strong attention and praise with comparisons of Katatonia and Green Carnation passed upon the music it brought forward. This was followed by equally acclaimed second album The Melancholy Hour in 2010 which again saw not only more guests alongside the duo to realise the songs but returning producer Daniel Cardoso, a man who is involved with so many impressive releases everywhere you turn, to add again brings his impressive production touch and drums skills to Surface Light.

The new album once more involves guest vocalists to bring a depth and firm variety to the songs plus Cardoso with drums and bass as well as production. For Surface Light the band has called on the striking talents of Jan Transit (In The Woods…,Transit), Patrik Karlsson (This Haven), Stein R Sordal (Green Carnation, Sordal) and Sophie (Ugarit), alongside the excellent tones of Mankinen. The combinations are majestic and enhance and flavor each song as deeply as the thoughtfully crafted music that surrounds them.

The album opens with the dark but warm Vertigo Dawn, an instrumental with soaring vocal harmonies and a desolate breath that works itself in far beyond the ear as it leads in the outstanding The Hollow. The band immediately pulls one directly into its heart as a web of voices and evocative sounds touch thoughts as they wrap themselves gently but firmly around its recipient. A melancholic ambience pervades the body alongside the stirring guitar creativity and provocative additional female vocals. It is a large yet intimate sound and one which lingers long after its final emotive note, though taking the album as a whole each song is never long in being replaced by equally impactful and full songs.

The following Silent Bliss is a vibrant and energetic track which lifts the emotions with stirring eager riffs and melodies but keeps it always personal with insightful and impassioned quiet moments of calm and restraint. The song reminds of latter Comsat Angels though it is not obvious exactly why to be honest but the atmosphere and infectiousness of the emotions invoke the comparison. As the album progresses the diversity of the album is more than apparent within its thirteen affecting compositions.

The album as a whole brings a kind of undefined theme or feeling at least with each and every luxurious yet saddened song. It is a wonderful blend of vibrancy and warmth which enthralls and uplifts whilst stemming from a darkened heart wrapped in sorrow and under a dimmed light. The wonderful Tonight I Died, Tomorrow I’ll Live with its post rock/gothic tension, the excellent melodic rock Helsinki, and the impassioned Someone (Like You) with a melody that would suit any Bond film, all burn with a heavy yet glowing heart that makes the listen a complete and deep event.

With further delights in the rousing Zeppelin On Fire, the impressive and best track Schadenfreude, a song that has a life and world all of its own, and the closing The Porcupine Dilemma which feels like a conclusion pulling all before it into a final immense release of passion, the album is a tremendous example of songwriting. It is a statement of far reaching atmospheres brought from the melding of heavy and stirring sounds with emotive and ardent dark to light feelings by the band. Released via Ethereal Sound Works, Surface Light and Vertigo Steps is manna for any who revel in the likes of Katatonia, Green Carnation, Porcupine Tree, Opeth, and Anathema or basically intense melodic and passional music.

RingMaster 26/04/2012

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