The Ethereal - _From Funeral Skies_
(Marche Funebre / Stygian Crypt Productions, 2005)
by: Quentin Kalis (8 out of 10)
The Ethereal is yet another of Stijn van Cauter's many projects. He is also responsible for Beyond Black Void and Until Death Overtakes Me, all located within the field of ambient / drone / funeral doom. This was initially released in 2002 on van Cauter's own label, and a deal was later struck with Totentroll, a Rage of Achilles sub-label, to release a re-recorded version in the first half of 2004. Due to Rage of Achilles' demise, this never materialized, and the re-recorded version (with an extra song) remained on ice until October 2005, when it became the first release from Marche Funebre Productions, a funeral doom subsidiary of Stygian Crypt Productions.

Naturally, there are many similarities with Beyond Black Void: a similar mechanism of layering despairing leads over ridiculously distorted rhythm guitars, accompanied by similarly deep and drawn out vocals barely distinguishable from the guitars is utilised. The major difference between the two projects is that The Ethereal is riff-driven, whilst Beyond Black Void placed a far greater focus on atmosphere; and for this reason alone, The Ethereal is, by a slim margin, the more accessible option. Keyboards are also used and percussion features far more strongly, all serving to create an album that is slightly more conventional.

The reader is urged not to place too much emphasis on my use of "riff-driven" or "conventional" -- this is used for comparative purposes only. The music is still dripping with relentless despair and agonizingly slow. If Ritalin has a place in your medicine cabinet, this will probably not occupy your attention beyond the duration of a single note! But for those inclined towards funeral doom, this will be highly enjoyable.


(article published 15/8/2007)

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