The Sinister Flame of Aethyrick & Ordinance
To quench the thirst of bards unborn
to anoint the bones of future lore
to wash away what was penned before
and make the shroud of secrecy fall
It’s been since the August of last year (provided this runs in the same year I am writing this post) you’ve last been brought to Aethyrick. Though considerably less time had passed from since, when they did release their sophomore full-length, Gnosis. I hardly think I need to make up excuses to my tardiness on a year like this, but made them up I have. And you shall have none of them.
As it was never Aethyrick’s intention to bear their torches towards the uncharted territories of black metal, it will not be a surprise that musically the changes between Praxis and Gnosis are not great but rather a continuation of the same of the same work, lacking in both, the daring dashes into the darkness veiled and the visits upon the soil of once-trod sites. For a black metal album Gnosis is a soft affair, emanating melancholy and nostalgia rather than cathartic rage, hate or violence. But taken without it’s context, a step back from the bindings of black metal, and it is a raw and aggressive album, ensuring that, like black metal by and large, it is not an album that shall please everyone. Unlike black metal by and large it applies this, to a degree and from a point of view, to black metal itself.
Aethyrick’s choice of style in itself is soft, but the production of Gnosis further highlights this with the plentiful use of clean, and acoustic guitars, placed in the middle of the mix with the distant reverb of the drums, while the distorted guitars and vocals form a tight coil around them, through which the melancholic bass breaks, and the keyboards envelop it all in their embrace. Some additional guitar lines and other embellishments appear at the fringes of the mix, taking full advantage of the space and making for a flurry of sound that is both soft and warm, yet can be unexpectedly harsh to hear. Gnosis sounds as it looks, as the cover art and the sound make for a perfect pairing at first glance, and for even better once the details begin to reveal themselves and like the depicted initiate, having passed the gate of their debut, still looming as a shadow on the wall, and the crown of wisdom is placed on your head.
There is more power to the individual compositions this time around as well, and if Praxis was a pleasant record to lose yourself into, but struggled to remain embedded outside experience, Gnosis calls for immediate re-examination, and remains long after the fact. But it is not a question of memorability per se, rather it is the essence of Gnosis which lingers on. The album trilogy soon draws to a close, and it won’t be as long until you hear of Aethyrick again. In the meantime, swathe yourself in the mysteries of Gnosis, for the apprehension of mystery fills each note, and one of the finest lyricists in metal.
Besides the label connection, Aethyrick and Ordinance share whispers of their past. Half of the former is comprised of Alghazanth’s members, or so it is persistently said in hushed tones, and the latter is commanded by Wulture, who spent the better part of Alghazanth’s last decade as their live guitarist, and both bands are duos, Ordinance’s line-up rounded out by the now-debuting Lauri Laaksonen, the mastermind and multi-instrumentalist behind Convocation and Desolate Shrine, as drummer.
At first it may seem as if the two shared more than questions aimed at their origin, but a more careful consideration will quickly dissipate any such sentiment. Ordinance’s take on black metal is richly nuanced, although much of it hides beneath a rough and rugged veneer. It belongs neither to the first, nor the second wave of black metal, not by either’s strictest standards. Nor does it conform to the general rules and features of the Finnish scene. It draws comparison to one band the first moment, and to another the next, the most striking resemblances are the Inquisition-ish riffs in one or two places, and the Agent Steel-ish moment is “Credo Sceleratum”, but always sounds like Ordinance, and put together, no one but Ordinance.
There is a progressive edge to the music, the melodies and riffs defying tradition, or perhaps rather, caring not for it, for there isn’t so much inclusion of ideas clearly taken outside of context, as there is bending ideas existing within the chosen context into new form. Taking traditional sounding black metal riffs, and working them until they are no more. But this, of course, applies to the whole album, and all it’s facets, and not just the riffs. Ordinance’s songwriting nuance also concerns more than the individual idea’s relation to each other in a song, but each songs relation to the others as well, and the album’s to the band’s discography. There’s no tempo where Ordinance would be less comfortable in, and no speed or style is ever relegated to just transitions, as each songs has it’s own character, despite In Purge There Is No Remission’s more unified facade in comparison to Ordinance’s older works.
In Purge There is No Remission is less eager to proclaim it’s unique nature and the distance between itself and the scene it inhabits than 2014’s Relinquence was, which the raw and ascetic production serves to highlight. But the low, growled vocals and lengthy guitar solos, which alone would set them apart from many, are only skin deep and there’s an undeniable wealth of differences underneath that can only be hidden for so long. The classics have been beaten in their own game many a times, and with In Purge there Is No Remission, Ordinance has flat out seized the game for themselves.
Forgotten past that never was,
Replaced with self-created tragedy
Prosperity quietly frittered away
Mythicized cowardice upon a pedestal