Remember when every Tom, Dick, and thrash band had an environmentally-focussed song in the late eighties? Well, Aeolian (Greek God of wind!) trump that with an entire album of naturalistic metal tunes. I'll be honest, I only know that from reading the press release, and subsequently paying attention to the song titles. But, kudos to them for avoiding the cliché extreme metal lyrical nonsense. Aeolian mix their metallic broth with a blend of death, thrash, and black metal (think Woods of Ypres and Arch Enemy jamming with Emperor).
There's a lot to love here. The song writing, especially for extreme metal, is diverse and, more importantly, captivating. I certainly never got bored listening to this. I can't say I got to the point of hammering my desk in unison with the rhythmic assault, but I reserve that embarrassing display for the extra-special goodness in life. 'Silent Witness', rather disappointingly, isn't a concept album based on the BBC drama series starring Amanda Burton. No, the silent witness here is none other than Mother Earth. An observer of the terrible crimes mankind has bestowed upon Her, without the facility to communicate Her suffering in words. Given that we blissfully pump shit into the atmosphere, despite the obvious warnings from the scientific community, and the degrading state of the Earth itself, I'm not so sure a talking planet would change our minds. Personally, I think I'd freak out. Unless he appeared as Kurt Russell; that'd be cool. I digress. The only downside to dedicating an entire album to one subject is that the message can be a bit fatiguing. Gojira are the obvious comparison here but they, like Aeolian, get by on the strength of the music. With some phrases reading like they came from Google Translate - and a touch on the schoolboy philosophy side of things - it's definitely the weakest aspect of the whole affair. That being said, it's still better than my Spanish (and I'm no Leonard Cohen either).
Anyway, going back to the Emperor reference, singer Daniel Perez sounds a lot like Ihsahn. The tone, inflection, and mix of cleans and melodic harsh vocals were a constant reminder of the Norwegian brain-twister. Not distractingly so, but I would wager he was a big influence. Musically, sign-posts are less clear as they mix genres and influences to create a sound that is definitely their own. You'd be hard-pressed to pick them out in an aural line-up, but at no point did I sense any overt borrowing of style from anyone. Aeolian expertly weave extreme metal tropes with some rather beautiful acoustic passages. It all feels very organic. It's difficult to pick stand-out tracks, purely because there is zero filler. However, 'My Stripes in Sadness' is one particular track stuck in my noggin.
'Silent Witness' is not without flaws, but the sheer musical craft papers over such concerns easily. It is a confident release and, despite the lyrical shortcomings, it's commendable that Aeolian have picked a subject close to their hearts and stuck with it.
Snow Wave Records
Review by Steve Cowan
12th Sept 2018
1) Immensity; 2) The End of Ice
4) My Stripes in Sadness
5) Return of the Wolf King
6) Going to Extinction
8) Wardens of the Sea
9) The Awakening
10) Black Storm
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"Aeolian mix their metallic broth with a blend of death, thrash, and black metal (think Woods of Ypres and Arch Enemy jamming with Emperor)."