Review Summary: Coming to terms
Being comfortable in your own skin is an undersold human right. In an era where you have lip service being paid to acceptance and inclusion, it doesn’t take much to see the reality of this hyper-connected social environment we live in that perpetually picks apart anyone who is different or who dares to really show themselves. Some take to spirituality to find themselves, committing to “the work” of inner discovery and uncovering true meaning and passion, and it is in this vein that Trisagion
takes its root. Indeed, Trisagion in a religious sense is an Orthodox hymn in three parts, and here Ethereal Shroud choose via three tracks of atmospheric black/doom metal to continue this “work” of coming to terms with oneself and your place in the world.
While this is without question a deeply personal and self-reflective record of its mastermind Joseph Hawker, it is easy for anyone to connect with the pure exhaustion and anger that fuels the album’s lyrical undercurrents. Delivered alongside massive, far-reaching soundscapes laced with equal parts rawness and melody, Trisagion
is awe-inspiring in its scope. Opener “Chasmal Fires” flows like an album in and of itself, crafting an initial swell with harp, viola, synths, and eventually pounding drums that then unleashes a tidal wave of swift, heavy black metal that forms the track’s backbone, taking flight and morphing between the album’s wide array of genre influences. A large part of the success of Ethereal Shroud’s songwriting is the constant variation – screeching black metal sits alongside angelic female cleans on “Chasmal Fires”, while crushing, doomy chords swallow the carefree melody that introduces “Astral Mariner”. The inspiration and sheer effort translates directly from the lyrics to the songwriting, and the maturation from They Became the Falling Ash
is almost unbelievable; a testament to the strength of Trisagion
, since Ethereal Shroud’s debut was not exactly a weak effort.
This is far from a depressing record, though, and while it is true that the album derives itself from the aforementioned blend of weariness and rage, it separates itself from its peers by pressing onward and looking beyond that. It has long been the crux of black metal atmosphere to wallow in self-hatred and loneliness, but Trisagion
is a window into a brighter world; a future where one may not piece together their place in life, but where one can be comfortable living as you
. “Discarnate”, being the album’s most direct, punchiest track borrows a lot from melodic death metal as it dispatches riff after riff to drive this point home. We are one, you are nothing
it so poignantly bellows, as the thundering drums envelop the tremolo-picked melody, adding an as-yet-unseen dimension to Ethereal Shroud’s more careful, winding mantra.
Ranging from aggressive and unyielding to introspective and deep, Trisagion
is an embodiment of “the work”, and proves that such a concept extends beyond religious soul-seeking. Its three hymns come together to form an ambitious, daunting 64-minute masterpiece that demands your attention with its songwriting prowess while simultaneously speaking to your inner psyche with its evocative lyrical content. It is rare to witness such sincerity in a genre like black metal that tends to amplify extremes and highlight vitriolic personalities, but Ethereal Shroud ooze nothing but genuity. It offers substance that transcends the music, and while you will perpetually find yourself wanting to go back to the masterful pacing and riffs of “Discarnate” or the endless variation within “Chasmal Fires” you will walk away remembering moreso how the album makes you think and feel. Such praise, which Trisagion
easily garners, is shared by precious few other works in the genre.