Artist: Ethereal Shroud
Album: They Became The Falling Ash
It is impossible for me to discuss this record honestly and objectively, so in the interest of academic honesty I must disclose that I like this artist an awful bit. And my appreciation – as far as I can tell – goes deeper than mere music. I am reminded of this brief thought by St Augustine recorded in his great classic work Confessions regarding the death of a close friend:
My heart grew sombre with grief, and wherever I looked I saw only death. My own country became a torment and my own home a grotesque abode of misery . . . Tears alone were sweet to me, for in my heart’s desire they had taken the place of my friend.
I have often wondered what causes some to be drawn so intently to sadness in art, specifically literature and music. I don’t think I have a complete answer for this, but there is something ineffably profound about grief. Perhaps it is this vicarious experience of depth and wonder that draws me to the experience of Ethereal Shroud.
They Became the Falling Ash is the second full-length album, a follow up to Absolution|Emptiness which was released in 2013. Like its predecessor, this album gives off the same vibe throughout: melancholy cries reverberating in the dark chamber of one’s soul. If you have already heard the first one, you will know what to expect from this one. In terms of overall sound, he hasn’t departed one bit from it: this is basically a musical portrait of an existential crisis.
After a brief synth intro, the guitars provide a bombastic entrance for the rest of the instruments and thus the journey begins. For albums like this, tone is pretty much everything. The compositions are interesting enough from a purely musical standpoint, and obviously they are important, but make no mistake: they certainly take a back seat to the atmosphere, which is the driving force behind the potency of this album. Aside from a few chromatic shifts scattered throughout, the bulk of the work is strictly diatonic and it is this simplicity that allows the atmosphere to stand out without any distractions to the listener.
Even in spite of the blast beats and constant tremolo riffs and fills, the tempo of the work is relatively slow, but the album plods along steadily and is constantly changing in dynamics and intensity. The overwhelming atmosphere and long-winded tracks don’t keep it from being accessible in the least, however. In spite of the songs having daunting lengths (two of the three are about 25:00 in length), the album is engaging throughout.
Having said all of this though, what differentiates this effort from the debut? To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t tell you. My appreciation is the same for both, and whilst they are definitely different compositions, I’m not sure the second one has anything to offer that you wouldn’t get from the first one, with one exception: the ending.
The last part of the final track is without a doubt my favourite part. Just when the album is a few minutes from ending, there is a small interlude of positivity: a silver glimmer of hope shining through the dismal cacophony. The warm rays of the sun, briefly penetrating the canopy of the forest. But this glimmer is short-lived, as it is merely the final ray of daylight, the last hurrah of a sinking sun. In the last minute of the album, you can hear the sun finally sink behind the horizon, and feel the darkness take over once again.
Overall score: 9/10 (using autothrall’s scale)thereal Shord – They Become The Falling Ash