Review Summary: Null and sway…
The world of black and death metal hybrids have certainly come a long way these last few years, but for whatever reason few acts remain memorable on their merits. Acts like Erdve, whose debut melded compositional greatness into uncompromising heaviness without losing the very venom or essence their music defined, showcased dominance through musical ingenuity still found themselves forgotten soon thereafter, and in that regard, Gaerea’s debut similarly simmered with volcanic intent. With Unsettling Whispers
, Gaerea took a platform of death metal, coupled it with no frills black metal and twisted it with just enough sludge to define a band interesting enough to keep an eye on...and yet, Gaerea’s debut came and went like a flash in a pan as the music community’s jaded fans simply ‘moved on’ to whatever album was currently making waves.
, it seems, justifies my previous thought, creating just enough hyperbole to give any press a good run for its money—but my issue within the scene still remains. How do we keep these albums relevant, on topic, regardless of how well executed they are?
The answer, probably lies within the music.
“To Ain” lunges into the fray, combining heavy, ominous riffs into a sweltering atmosphere and at just over eleven minutes, the record’s opening piece stands as a statement of sorts. Still, there’s movement here, mostly in the form of swirling melodic nuance, swelling from the atmosphere created in the track’s formative moments. With this in mind, it’s hard to dismiss the musical awareness that Garea showcases when crafting ‘heavy’ compositions. The opening track’s ‘quieter’ moments highlight a base contrast with the oppressive, providing breathing room for the listener, wrapping them in melodic, atmospheric nuance—before tipping them back into a world of gut-wrenching screams and deathly blasts. While opening their newest offering, Gaerea have made their brand of music succinctly clear (forgiving the plus-eleven minute track times). There’s a simplicity here, outlined in basic ideas executed in an exemplary fashion. Whether it’s the strong, lunging riffs or the versatility shown in vocal phrasings, there’s enough to create and
maintain interest (all before the first track’s done).
“Null” continues the opening velocity, picking up on both the intensity and tempo. At six minutes it’s easily more digestible than the titanic “To Ain”, leaning heavily on the band’s penchant for blast beats and musical furor and yet, Gaerea takes a restrained approach offering moments of melody in the place of complete cacophony. “Conspiranoia” tips the album’s outward formula on its head. Melody runs rampart, second to the heaviness. It’s smart, showing a different dimension in a world often ruled by how ‘fast’ or ‘heavy’ something is.
Unsurprisingly, the album’s shortest track, “Urge”, has the biggest physical punch. In leaning into the band’s more deathly roots, Gaerea’s penchant for sprinting, break-neck riffing pushes quickly to the forefront. The track however lacks the dexterity of the record’s more “fleshed out”, longer compositions - simply slamming the listener across the track’s (less than) five minute run time. On the other hand, there’s an out of the gates intensity that braces the listener for the thirteen minute closer.
It’s pretty clear I don’t have all the answers to the conundrum I’ve raised earlier in this piece. It would be slightly presumptuous to assume that this review has an ulterior motive for ‘encouraging others to work on the issue at hand’. Largely, Limbo
is another album I want
to hear from a scene taking the versatile extremities of metal, highlighting all the key component of a record that just works
, that said the pitfall of this niche sound still manages to trap Gaerea’s 2020 effort into the “I like it, but I have other stuff to listen to” pile. That’s not to undersell Limbo
as a whole. No, Gaerea have pulled black and grey rabbit out of a mottled top hat, but under a mountain of other great to sensational releases it lacks the basic memorability to push past its two dimensional soundscapes.