Aethyr- “Corpus”

Aethyr- "Corpus"

Sometimes a band comes into my periphery and sits, patiently waiting until the right time to truly impress me. I picked up a split cassette from Russian duo (now a quartet) Aethyr and the mysterious Nanoot Har quite some time ago and listened to it twice. I remember enjoying it thoroughly, but I also remember it falling victim to the steady growth of my music collection as my blog began to pick up speed. When I received contact from Cimmerian Shade Records about Aethyr’s full-length release, Corpus, I’ll admit I approached it as if I had never heard of the band. A quick bit of research, however, and I quickly realized I had already heard and enjoyed this project before. Perhaps it’s meant to be then, that I came across them again at a time when I’m finally actually accustomed to digesting music at a higher rate, as Aethyr’s Corpus has already been sinking in nicely for me.

While the vocals would initially seem to be from some sort of feral beast rather than a human, there is a chilling sense of coordination to everything presented on Corpus. Whether it’s the fact that they successfully shortened their offering from the Nanoot Har split, “ATU,” (linked here in its uncut form) without harming it in any way or the precise and ritualistic energy of even the heaviest riffs, Aethyr never loses composure. Whether it’s as absolutely violent sludge or the throwback rock vibes that fade into Cascadian-influenced beauty on “Sanctus Satanicus,” Aethyr’s energy is a constant yet the band draws from a broad variety of influences. The only real weakness here is that the album feels at times more like a collection of songs than it is a completed album meant to flow together. The songs themselves tend to unravel in a way that holds a few surprises yet feels completely natural, so it’s not a huge hit to the album’s strength and continuity, but it does make me wonder if Aethyr’s tendency to lean towards excess is an intentional maneuver. Instead of allowing the listener to briefly visit the madness, Corpus provides a lengthy experience to test the sanity of those who dare to listen.

Aethyr performing

While I am quite drawn to the more exploratory and ethereal passages on the album, I feel that the strongest moment of Corpus comes in the lengthy yet gripping title track which serves as the album’s peak before the tailing end of “Templus.” With just enough exploration and riffs that seem to crash endlessly into each other over tremolo-picked harmonies, the song has every piece of Aethyr’s identity intact without feeling stagnant or intentionally broad. Its predecessor “The Gnostic Mass” offers another moment of true interest for me, as the drone here shows an understanding of the format. Many heavy metal bands seem curious to experiment with extended tones and city-sized riffs, but few seem to actually grasp what they’re toying with. While this isn’t quite on par with titans like Northumbria, it’s tasteful and haunting, with some interesting samples to add texture and contrast. In general, it’s a fitting term for almost everything here. Aethyr isn’t creating something wholly new, but they fuse together so many fascinating subcategories of extreme music in a way that just feels good, and that’s important enough.