Ethereal Shroud- “Absolution|Emptiness”


Ethereal Shroud digital album coverSome of you may know that I started Black Metal & Brews simply because I frequently found myself visiting with friends, playing new music I’d found, and ranting endlessly about how awesome it was. While a few of my friends clearly enjoyed this habit and found it helpful for their listening, I’m sure a lot of people got tired of hearing me ramble. Since I’m so well known for being the guy who loves to talk about awesome new music, it’s almost frustrating when an album comes my way that rules so hard that I can’t even put it into words. A few months ago, I received a copy of Ethereal Shroud‘s Absolution|Emptiness cassette from Grimoire Cassette Cvlture and was baffled. The music was easy enough for my ears to process, but I knew that nothing I could write would ever capture the feelings the music instilled. So now that I’m at my wit’s end on this one, here is a collection of my thoughts, jumbled as they may be. If you prefer my writing to be more direct, skip the next paragraph or two and just click the bandcamp link at the bottom. Trust me, you want to hear this.

Ethereal Shroud bills itself as a hybrid of black metal and funeral doom. The pace is slightly more constant than I’d typically expect of funeral doom, but the atmosphere is wholly present. An eternal sort of sadness and longing is conveyed in every moment of this cassette, with no lyrics to go by and just a general sense of inner weight. Icy lead guitar often cuts through, but not above, the density of each song’s primary instrumentation, adding something a bit more memorable and possibly transcendent. The bleakness is not necessarily escaped, but hope comes in at moments amid the chaos of hazy, smothering songwriting. The A-side’s standout moment comes in the form of the slow, melodic build at the beginning of “One Step Further Into the Grave,” which gives way to blankets of fuzz and vocals that feel more like another layer of static than an actual human voice. The consistency and heaviness of the whole experience are stunning. Flipping the tape leads us to two tracks that, to my ears, fuse into one gorgeous and devastating way to end the album experience. The ambiance of the album’s title track is almost tragic as it gives way to the closing track, “Lost in the Cold, Gone is the Light.” There aren’t really words I can put to this track’s Lustre-esque brilliance, but at nearly fourteen minutes long, it’s certainly an experience to lose yourself in. Don’t leave this on as background music while you’re going about your daily matters. Focus. Be present while you listen. This is an unrelenting darkness that becomes so suffocating it’s almost blissful. Cloaked in the safety of an overwhelming blackness, I am lulled to peace and calm by the song’s end. Sometimes when an album is over I am ready to hear something new. When I’m finished with Ethereal Shroud, I flip it back to the A-side and start over again.

Ethereal Shroud Cassette

Seventeen copies of Ethereal Shroud’s Absolution|Emptiness remain in the Grimoire Cassette Cvlture store, so grab them while they remain. The album is also available as a free download from Ethereal Shroud’s bandcamp page, but this is an album that really benefits from the analog format. Download it while you wait for your order to arrive. The artist is currently working on a full-length album, so keep an eye out. I’m sure it won’t disappoint.