Review Summary: Dense and massive, "Ethic of Radical Finitude" is Downfall of Gaia’s finest hour
At this point in their career, it’s hard to deny Downfall of Gaia are ultimate masters of their craft – casually bending the best parts of post rock, doom and black metal into a swirling mass of soundscapes. From the ambient-heavy opening to the outstanding closer, Ethic of Radical Finitude
just might be the career-defining album from the German metal act.
Comparable to Der Weg Einer Freheit’s Finisterre
, the latest from Downfall of Gaia is calmly elegant at times, and nerve-throttling at others. Like witnessing an overpowering storm, Ethic of Radical Finitude
practically swallows the listener whole. The first major highlight, “We Pursue the Serpent of Time” is nothing short of massive – with thundering drums and dense riffs pummeling the listener for the better part of ten minutes. But it’s often the in-between moments – the stray guitar or piano interlude – that leave you in complete awe. It’s relentless when it needs to be, but these gentle instrumental breaks prove to be simply intoxicating.
This feeling of intoxication barely wavers throughout Downfall of Gaia’s latest towering epic. With several sprawling tracks nearing the ten-minute mark, there are plenty of moments to get lost in and appreciate; plenty of serene build-ups and immense crescendos. Ending on a high note, “Of Withering Violet Leaves” is a thing of indescribable beauty. It begins with warm guitar tones reminiscent of Agalloch’s Ashes Against the Grain
. Soon another guitar joins in, then another - and then one more for good measure! The layered instrumental build-up here is beyond impressive; each note echoes and stands out in a way that speaks volumes to Downfall of Gaia’s attention to detail. The harsh vocalist is no slouch, either. He confidently matches the album’s loudest moments with his shrill, even piercing screams. There are also some clean vocals with a tribal feel that pit perfectly into the album’s more mysterious moments; a pretty nice bonus if you ask me.
Full of classic tremolo riffing and shrill screams – though enough innovation to stand out in 2019 – Ethic of Radical Finitude
will go down in the books as a noteworthy achievement for Downfall of Gaia. They haven’t reinvented their sound, but they’ve reassembled it into something much more concise and potent. Their music has never quite had the strong magnetic pull that it does this time around. These songs will draw you in, but they’ll spit you out just as hard. Ethic of Radical Finitude
is the pinnacle of the band’s career. Their mastery of atmosphere and melody has reached dizzying new heights here – and it’s a hell of a thing to behold.