Review Summary: A 48-minute trek of brooding desperation, dark reveries, and, of course, doom.
One of the most crucial steps in rating an album accurately is matching your criteria with the album's apparent purpose; you wouldn't judge Beethoven in terms of "sick-nasty rhythms" or Cannibal Corpse in terms of artistic merit. In Skepticism's unique funeral doom release Lead and Aether
, heavy use of dark melodies, creative chord structures, ever-building minimalism, pounding pseudo-tribal drums, and almost - dare I say it - catchy
keyboard/organ lines draw the listener in more than a few directions. Thus, establishing a basis on which to judge the album was quite difficult. However, the ultimate purpose seems to be a 48-minute trek of brooding desperation, dark reveries, and, of course, doom. Lead and Aether
is a brilliantly multifaceted album that accurately conveys this without becoming too
lost in repetitive drudgery.
With less-than-polished production, deeply resonating drums, overdubbed guitars, powerful organ chords, and deep, mournful growls, Skepticism creates a wall of sound equivalent to six feet of well-packed soil. However, they also know when to lay back and allow minimalistic instrumentation and sombre undertones take over. This seems to be an amiable trait in the world of funeral doom; after being slowly but surely barraged by total despair, this allows for the listener to convalesce before returning to desolation. In addition, this adds a blatantly varying factor in a stereotypically monotonous genre. However, beneath the surface, avoiding monotony is one of the album's greatest strengths. Through shifting instrumentation, tempo changes, various keyboard tones, and well-varied atmospheres, each song is given its own identity and purpose. From the emotional heights and lows of "The Falls" to the inherently evil-sounding "The Organium", Lead and Aether
brings the listener on a dreary trip through catacombs, castles, and coffins from various viewpoints and accurately conveys the emotions of each.
Although largely incoherent, the lyrics match these themes in a surprisingly poetic manner. The lyrics to "The Falls", for example, could easily find a place between Emily Dickinson and William Cullen Bryant. This seems to represent the album as a whole - although aesthetically dark and straightforward, when examined further, Lead and Aether
is of great artistic value, contains a broad spectrum of ideas, and represents a strong release, regardless of what criteria the album is judged by.