Ethereal - _The Dreams of Yearning_
(Recital, 2003)
by: Pedro Azevedo (8 out of 10)
_The Dreams of Yearning_ is the sort of album that starts quietly, slowly weaves its web, and ensnares you in a way that after a few listens you will be left wondering how exactly you came to enjoy this disc so much. You see, Ethereal's main strength lies not in crushing brutality or breakneck speed (neither of which they have), nor in mind-blowing symphonies or jaw-dropping technicality (both of which they hint at without making it obvious). Instead, Ethereal seem focused on creating quality music above anything else; music that demands attention and rewards the listener with each successive listen. _The Dreams of Yearning_ comes across, at least so some degree, as a bit of a concept album: songs flow into each other seamlessly, offering different moods and patterns, and this hour-long album ultimately seems to last less than that. Ethereal play a form of melodic, atmospheric, mostly melancholic metal that remains quite difficult to compare to any specific band. Comparisons can nonetheless be made in certain areas to a few bands. Vocalist Hugo Soares tends to remind me mostly of Nevermore's Warrel Dane; there are a few more similarities to be found between the two bands, but they are far from dominant in Ethereal's sound. These Portuguese newcomers can just as easily remind me of In the Woods..., with their occasional quietly symphonic synth touches (e.g. "A Lonely Dancer") and especially the emotional duelling vocals on "The Moon Blesses Our Sins". You may even be able to distinguish some vague traces of Queensryche's _Operation: Mindcrime_ if you pay attention. Regardless of that, Ethereal constantly come up with fine melodies and arrangements of their very own, and have been able to make a very good album out of them. For my taste a couple of passages would have benefited from a slightly higher aggression level, and it might have been possible to trim a few minutes off the album without sacrificing the overall result. Ultimately, however, these are minor complaints. Ethereal have succeeded in crafting an album that exudes dedication, talent and personality, which leads me to vividly recommend it.


(article published 29/5/2003)

7/20/2006 P Azevedo 8.5 Ethereal - Towers of Isolation
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