Spectral Lore
Ετερόφωτος


3.9
excellent

Review

by MiloRuggles STAFF
April 24th, 2021 | 73 replies


Release Date: 04/23/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Trems and the Art of Cosmic Insignificance

Entering the metal scene as a new artist must be an intimidating prospect, like merging onto a twelve lane highway laden with throngs of similarly unkempt fantasy/sci-fi/misanthropy enthusiasts all driving to the same theme park. These enthusiasts must often forget that Tolkien's abilities as a linguist fueled his world-building, that Frank Herbert's dogged ecological research informed his ground-breaking work, that Varg Vikernes actually murdered someone in the throes of his artistic rebellion. Without such pedigree, aspiring artists in the field often focus on concept over content, constructing albums set in an alternate earth/the future/another planet/inside Tolkien's brain about emancipation/constipation/authoritarianism that lasts for an hour/ninety-fucking-minutes/one-hundred-and-twenty-fucking-minutes, further clogging up an unending parade of subgenres most adequately defined by their more succinct progenitors.

Spectral Lore's previous album, III, is a ninety-fucking-minutes concept album about transcending self-absorbed desires and becoming a living expression of the universe, and although it wears every possible strain of black metal influence on its sleeve, Nihilus Ayloss (yeah) proves that his foundational skill as a composer/shredder warrants the premise with ethereal vigour, even if you're the type that believes that relentless progressive tendencies have morphed metal from pure, primal catharsis into a room full of music majors swapping wristies. Two more brief statements about III before we kick on:
a) more people need to start spouting wildly unfounded claims such as “this is a modern classic of the genre” so that it accrues the listeners and acclaim that it deserves
b) sweet mother of dicks, III was Spectral Lore's last solo full-length release

Well, the truth is that Ετερόφωτος will leave some fans of III cold. The lack of Roman numerals in the title is significant; that series of albums is a spawn of a different M.O. Ετερόφωτος is a continuation of what we've heard on Sentinel, Gnosis, and even some of the more direct aspects of the Mare Cognitum crossovers. Spectral Lore's latest album operates in a realm less ethereal and more insane, defining itself through labyrinthine riffing, scorching lead runs, busy bass work, and menacing, roaring vocals that almost reflect the lyrics provided. The discerning listener might appraise the end result as fucking ferocious.

While black metal albums have a habit of opening with their most savage blasts of hatred, the inaugural salvo on 'Ατραπός' could blow the beard off of even the most stubborn of necks. This track progs its way toward a finale that provides cathartic harmonic payoff, but there is some steam lost in the middle through an inexplicable fadeout/fadein of a solo guitar part, eventually paired with a lead guitar that makes a couple of egregious mistakes. If this performance contains metaphoric connotations of the track's lyrics describing descending deities and systematic oppression, it's lost on me. Nevertheless, it's still a great track, and a perfect summation of most of what's to come.

While there is some typical genre fare on this project as far as lyrics go (“One must fall to attain true wisdom”) there are also lyrics that harness that power of these songs and put them to good use. During the album's opus, 'The Sorcerer Beyond the Clouds', there is a pronounced section of harmonic instability as Ayloss “sing[s] a song of heresy”, but then traditional harmony re-enters the fold, and we're given the most uncompromising stanza of the release:

Curse to you all men who seek for kings and sages!
You will raise them to sky to turn them into relics
To convince yourself there's someone
Who won't ever fail you
Your order will never be eternal
But only eternally Everchanging
Ι smite your crumbled thrones
And spit at your baseless pride

As the track hits its vinegar strokes, synths that my notes shamelessly described as “fuckin epic” enter the fray, ya boi just about runs outta frets on his bass, and a guitar is just pure shreddin' its knuts off. We receive an intro reprise with more guitars to cap things off. Whew. I need a cigarette. If you only check one track here, make it this one.

Ετερόφωτος contains precisely two surprises outside of its bulk of digressive black metal fare. 'Apocalypse' is the first of these, providing respite from the meticulously composed chaos by becoming chaos incarnate, guitars descending like a swarm of rabid bats, tremoloing us onto a path towards damnation. Strange rattling enters the fray, and the world's busiest snare roll builds toward an ever steeper decline, marked by even more fuckin gats. Things break down to almost nothing, providing a brief respite, before hilariously fast programmed drums kick down the door, and suddenly it's musical madness all round, the creaking of heavy machinery, the fall of industrialisation, the liberation of our Terran brothers and sisters, the rapture in full fucking swing, Spectral Lore on a pale white stallion leading the charge.

Conversely, there's the part of the album that everybody's gonna whine about. The closing track, 'Terean', hits the other extreme. After an hour of blistering kvlt shit, a near-twenty-minute ambient track sees us out. It's hardly as annoying as that lull in the middle of Shaking The Habitual (dw sputnik, I swear I love that album), but it wouldn't be an entirely unreasonable idea to have split up the busier portions of Ετερόφωτος with this track, which is basically already split into two parts anyhow. Yet, I think this decision actually works to the album's benefit. Skip it if you want, no-one's judging, but I'm quite grateful for this epilogue following the violent turbulence of Ετερόφωτος; it evokes that beautiful album art more than anything else here. The howling wind, the mournful choir, the spooky rhythmic shit all combine to make me scared that that scary God-looking fucker's gonna breach through the floor, crumbling my house to dust, and, holding me in its hands, invade my being with divine messages inferring my cosmic insignificance.

Ετερόφωτος has some small caveats typical of a release of its ilk; I'll forever maintain that a fadeout is almost always a shit way to end a ten minute prog metal meltdown; there are sections of songs that aren't as effective as others, which can be draining across such a lengthy release; the album's dynamics could be a little more, uh, dynamic, especially as this is not a passive release — your attention is essential to getting anything out of this. This said, Ετερόφωτος fucking hums when we're blastin' and riffin'. The main draw of this album, the persistently evasive guitarwork that chugs along at about 200n/m, somehow never succumbs to sounding like a scale exercise put to tape, but imbues the album with a sense of perpetual momentum and – at its best – wonder. If the idea of yet more guitars in 2021 still holds appeal to you, look no further than Ετερόφωτος - Nihilus Ayloss' most frenzied outpouring yet.



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3.9
excellent
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Comments:Add a Comment 
MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2021


1254 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

Listen to this, listen to III, listen to all the other albums and sideprojects this busy fulla is in, give this kool kat some money: https://spectrallore.bandcamp.com/album/-

Space Jester
April 24th 2021


9324 Comments


Nice review dude, Spectral Lore is one of my favorite bm bands so I'm excited to jam this, just bought it earlier today.

And apparently IV will be coming next year

Hawks
April 24th 2021


74192 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Gotta hear asap.

Digging: Old Nick - A New Generation Of Vampiric Conspiracies

kevbogz
April 24th 2021


3099 Comments


Hawks you son of a bitch stop dodging us

Veldin
April 24th 2021


4396 Comments


And apparently IV will be coming next year [2]
I listened to this but I'm gonna have to continue listening before I rate. Definitely awesome

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2021


14082 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Heavy subscribed on this boy.

Digging: ACAUSAL INTRUSION - Nulitas

Lichtbringer
April 24th 2021


616 Comments


I used to love this project, what happened?

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2021


9127 Comments


Great review.

Judging from the quoted lyrical passage and the music description alone (haven't heard this or Sentinel/Gnosis yet), Ayloss' Mystras project had something to do with the making of this album.

Gyromania
April 24th 2021


32396 Comments


Worst album cover of the year

Gameofmetal
Emeritus
April 24th 2021


10946 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

"Conversely, there's the part of the album that everybody's gonna whine about"



We not whining, it's just a really bad and pointless ambient track >: )



Good review.

Slex
April 24th 2021


11202 Comments


Very excited to listen to this

Digging: Origami Angel - Gami Gang

Pikazilla
April 24th 2021


16372 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Whatever happens, there's no way this'll be as good as III :3

Slex
April 24th 2021


11202 Comments


@Gyro it's bad but Zao's is worse

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2021


9127 Comments


I really relish how well the folk elements have been integrated with the harsh black metal parts.

That said, the kick drums sound funny at times.

Space Jester
April 24th 2021


9324 Comments


“Whatever happens, there's no way this'll be as good as III :3”

Yea but that’s a little unfair

sonictheplumber
April 25th 2021


12429 Comments


bet i know what this sounds like

Digging: Entophyte - End of Society's Sanity

Space Jester
April 26th 2021


9324 Comments


It kicks ass

Atari
Staff Reviewer
April 26th 2021


26459 Comments


excited to jam this. enjoyed the review

Digging: My Bloody Valentine - Isn't Anything

Pho3nix
April 26th 2021


1087 Comments


"Worst album cover of the year"

I've seen much worse this year

Eons
April 26th 2021


3073 Comments


The album cover fits the concept of the album, I remember seeing the single/video release on YouTube and thought it was amazing musically and conceptually.

Digging: Winterfylleth - The Threnody of Triumph



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