Tech Death Thursday: Aetheric


Aetheric are a sonic kick in the teeth, and I’m here to deliver that tooth-kick to you by proxy. But with words. Or something. Fuck it, it’s Tech Death Thursday.

Tech Support:

  • New Enfold Darkness! …Kind of. You can check out the new teaser for Adversary Omnipotent right here. Look for the full album on July 14th via The Artisan Era.
  • Fleshmeadow, that awesome technical black metal band you should totally go listen to, has a new guitar playthrough for “Fangs Flaying Flesh.” Check that out if you like seeing chord changes done rill fast.

I don’t get out to many shows these days- partly due to responsibilities, and mostly because I’m an antisocial cave-dwelling neanderthal- but when a band like Minnesota’s Aetheric is playing practically on my doorstep, it would be criminal to pass it up. After sitting through the first couple opening deathcore acts made mandatory by the All Shall Perish Act of 2009 (one of which was actually pretty solid- check out Erabyss for some beefy riffs with synth accompaniment), Aetheric took the stage and treated us to a half-hour filled with shreds and blastbeats. My face reduced to a gelatinous mass and my brain thoroughly scrambled, I resolved to give the band the spotlight they so rightly deserve.

Aetheric present two distinct sides to themselves on Serpents Beneath The Shrine. The first and most prominent is the sort of melodic, hook-laden, flashy style I most closely associate with the likes of Alterbeast and Bloodshot Dawn. Aetheric strike a delicate balance between pure technical shredding and vigorous tremolo-heavy melodeath riffing, using the former largely to accent and punctuate their phrases rather than driving them forward with it. These oscillate between the brighter, almost hopeful sound found on “A Vile Birthright” and “By Death Possessed” and the lower, nastier tone of “Unearthing Global Treachery.” They are both unmistakably part of the greater melodeath paradigm, but there are couple moments that completely cast off these traditional trappings. The bulk of the title track is spent going between a Gothic-tinged harmonic minor theme and an absolutely savage diminished riff that is, while not entirely unique, outside the norm for melodic death metal. Regardless, it’s all extremely well-written and performed.

The other side of the Aetheric coin brings forth crushing grooves reminiscent of Ryan Glisan-era Allegaeon. These slower moments are pure headbanging bliss, syncopated bounce riffs with the odd burst of rapid-fire tremolo picking. I actually welcomed the breaks from the speed rather than dreading them. Basically, they achieve all the things the collective djent world sets out to do without any of the obnoxious repetition and noise gating.

On that note, the production is great; clean, yes, but not entirely devoid of character. The bass has a lot of presence in the mix, which does wonders for the fullness of the sound when the guitars are off exploring the top of their range. It has a light, warm quality to it as well that’s fairly uncharacteristic of the style, but it works well tonally. The guitar attack hasn’t been neutered at all; it’s fairly common to hear guitar playing in tech death (leads in particular) that sound entirely legato whether or not they’re actually played that way due to sound engineering and post-production nonsense, but it’s easy to tell when the guitarists are really digging in here. The vocalist’s dynamic, hardcore-tinged half-shout/half-scream remains consistent across all frequencies, and the drums, while somewhat mechanical, highlight the drummer’s crazy performance. If I had one complaint, it’s that the hi-hat is oddly loud in some places, but that only happens once or twice and is a minor nitpick at worst.

In case I hadn’t made it clear yet, I’m pretty goddamn hyped on these guys. Aetheric are tech death through and through- no qualifiers, no additives, no gimmicks- and they’re very good at it. It’s hard to believe that Serpents Beneath The Shrine is a debut given how well put-together it is; it sounds good, the musicians and writing are tight and proficient, and it feels very complete. It’s a thoroughly pleasant listen that I’ve already revisited multiple times, and I know I will be coming back to repeatedly. Do you like fun? Then give this a spin.

Serpents Beneath The Shrine is available on Bandcamp at the ridiculously generous name-your-price. Be sure to hit up Aetheric on Facebook and show them some smelly Toilet appreciation. That’s all I’ve got for this week, so until next time,

Stay Tech

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