Reaching a Different Kind of Nirvana: Ethereal Riffian’s Aeonian
Oneness. Sensation. Awareness. Not necessarily in that order – these are a few of the track listings you’ll hear when cracking open a portal into Ethereal Riffian’s mesmerizing Aeonian. And like the definition of the title itself, the effect is everlasting – if you’re up for a sonic hangover and a complete submission into enlightenment in the way that only music can achieve.
Edge of Enlightenment
Brooding from the overtones of late 60’s psychedelic meshed with grunge, the band’s second album ascends to an acme of multi-sensual revelations through the ritualistic poundings of heavy metal and otherworldly chant. It’s as if the Gods of Valhalla have become oversaturated with carousing and entered a temple of Tibetan monks, consequently resulting in a beautiful explosion of the universe. If order comes out of chaos, then Ethereal Riffian delivers it aplenty in the hammering dissonance of its grinding chords juxtaposed against the twilight of soft, cosmic sounds. Literary parallel: in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake reveals “The path of excess leads to the palace of wisdom” and there is a dark/light resonance of that mantra in this work.
The listener is plunged into an excess of thick sound and delirious vocals in “Thugdam” (Sensation) which transforms into a pulsing, chanting interlude to the next track. After the numbing repetition of the first few minutes, new melodic sequences, a change of dynamics, and the colorful harmonics of acoustic instruments begin to depict a new sequence, fading away into oblivion before the “March of Spiritu” (Rise of Sheol). Ghoulish sounds rise from the ashes of the first track’s inferno, before transforming into a seductive, lyrical guitar heralded by pounding bass and snare – an intoxicating, poisonous line which is then crushed by riotous noise once again. A return to the chanting motif, heavy crashing and whirling in and out of light, fleeting guitar rifts in the upper register make the juxtaposition truly magnificent, almost as if sucking the listener in and out of different dream states. Whatever the incantation, there is a sense of an entire world being discovered, every change sweeping with every key progression and build-up of rhythm and dynamics.
At no time is the album afraid to plunge into head-on fury or celebration. This is not meditation for the meek, and something reminiscent about Dante’s hell lingers here. But this is purgatory, friends, and the heavy-chorded heavens are not far behind.
“Wakan Tanka” (Awareness) weaves a mysterious tapestry of sultry drum beats, mellow, brooding guitar, and a drone-like yet snaky sound that simulates something in between Tibetan chant and a didgeridoo. The first few minutes play around with a few musical ideas, slowly developing the motif and enabling the listener to reach a more meditative state. The drone-like chant is truly haunting, and the power which follows is a sublime climax. Truly celebrating the marriage between the celestial and the human, this is the track that unleashes both fear and beauty, pushing through its cathartic-like growls, moans, and cries before reaching enlightenment itself; the listener has reached their zenith. “Anatman” (Oneness) is a therapeutic come down, healing, fluid yet exuding a strong sense of stillness. It is the meditative state at its most powerful, floating in cosmic ecstasy one moment with the musical silhouette of distant flutes then plunging into power chords and menacing whispers once again. At intervals it ideas seem to reflect a strong Pink Floydian flavor reminiscent of the Dark Side of the Moon era and all its metaphysical, music glory before dissipating into a disjointed, sweaty silence. It truly is an experience to undertake, one which is violent yet tender, wrapped in the lust of excess one moment then divining under purity the next.
It’s difficult to undertake a journey like this and not be reeling afterwards. While each track is substantial in its own merit, it is the album in its entirety which lends to the ultimate sonic aesthetic and spiritual pilgrimage. Ethereal Riffian is clearly going for an experience which transcends the norm and gives listeners something to clamp their teeth on. It’s the kind of album which is more than just about expelling angst, but even discovering components of the self by healing through its many ups and downs that mirror human nature while striving for something higher. There is a definitely therapeutic element of it like Ethereal Riffian’s other works, and like much of related metal/stoner music the potential to carry a universal yet intimate spiritual resonance at live performances is great. As a second album, Aeonian encompasses an already developed, mature understand of sound dynamic and concept, yet remains refreshing in its scope.
So shut off the lights, lay back on the floor, and let the encroaching darkness of the room envelope you as you let Aeonian fill your vessel and take over.
(Reviev by EVE)
(Reviev by EVE)