Symphonic black metal is a style that is existing since scarce 20 years and for me, it's a very attractive subgenre because it combines epic classical elements with rather brutal sounding black metal. I've always entertained the opinion that the meeting of heaviness and symphonic music, played and arranged properly, obviously, sounds very interesting and at the end of the day, symphonic metal in all shapes will always remain one of my favorite genres.
I've been exceptionally keen on hearing if the guys from Ethereal are on the ball or not. The band is also known as the "beasts of UK darkness" and toured with acts such as Fleshgod Apocalypse, Dark Fortress or Belphegor, which is saying something. This year and after long years of work as an independent band, the very first full-length effort "Opus Aethereum" is going to be released on 26 January.
Although the band name, the press pictures and obviously the album cover hint at a typical black metal act, "Opus Aethereum" contains a wide range of different sounds and influences. In general, the band's sound spectrum ranges from melodic and epic tracks like "Aethereum" to tracks filled with hatred and evil like "Devouring The Forsaken" or "Waking Death". Ethereal's overall approach on songwriting and arranging sounds very mature, especially considering the band is about to release its very first album. In addition to the general sound, there are so many elements in the band's music that make it enjoyable: the alternating deep growling and high-pitched screaming (by a vocalist who doesn't sound neither like a half-dead retard nor like a cookie monster), the epic sounding keyboards ("Nomicon") or the changing paces. Moreover, the guitar work sounds nicely polished, as well as the rather untypical, but fitting solos placed in nearly every song. I think the drumming is exceptionally well done and very detailed.
What I like most about "Opus Aethereum" is its dept and the balance between melody and heaviness. The musicians sound skilled and very passionate about details. Besides all these points, "Opus Aethereum" represents their self-confidence when it comes to songwriting.
In conclusion, I can say that Ethereal have done a surprisingly good job and that they surely have a bright future ahead. "Opus Aethereum" is a well-made symphonic black metal album I recommend to anyone who is either into epic music or melodic black metal.