Aeurtum was originally a two-piece melodic death metal band named Iapetus who released their debut EP early last year before splitting up. Following his brief stint as guitarist for Orylyus, founding member Jon Collins revived the band as a solo project. The Fall is the result of this second iteration of the band, returning to Iapetus by remaking three tracks from the original EP, but also bringing a selection of new material to the table.
Aeurtum have clearly taken aboard lessons from black metal, as atmosphere really is everything for The Fall. The interweaving melodies of “And So It Begins” provide a pleasant opening that hints at an underlying sense of dread, but the direction the album is going to take becomes clear with the first rumbling bass notes of ‘Parity’. What you are presented with is the sonic equivalent of walking alone through a moonlit forest during the depths of winter. I tend to be a bit sceptical when I see “Depression, Mortality, Misanthropy, and Loss” listed as influences, but in this case they describe the album’s sound perfectly.
Another lesson from black metal that has been latched onto is the murky, barebones production. It suits the mood of the album, but when additional elements like the folky, Ensiferum-inspired flourishes of ‘How The Silence Wept’ are added to the mix, they can be a bit too faint and indistinct. Jon is also obviously a fan of Amon Amarth – their influence clearly courses through The Fall’s veins even though the album is much less overt in its approach to the listener. I guess the way to describe the difference is that Aeurtum bring to mind longships making landfall at midnight rather than the Swedes’ berserker charge, if you’ll excuse the inevitable Viking metaphor.
I’m in two minds about the vocals. Technically they’re not very impressive – they’re too breathy and at times sound like Doctor Klaw from Inspector Gadget has taken up a career in death metal. However, they absolutely have the character of a dark presence whispering inside your head, really lending a sinister edge to the album’s already unsettling sound. The album does have moments when it backs off from this hostile atmosphere, such as the aptly named ‘Moment To Breathe’. This is a minute-long instrumental that reminds me of the faintly reassuring music that you got in the save rooms of the older Resident Evil games. Following this is the surprisingly chilled-out intro of ‘Dissolved In Emerald Waves’; a piano and guitar-led section that wouldn’t sound out of place in an elegant bar. It is less than a minute before the distortion returns and the ray of light disappears for the remainder of the album.
The Fall is definitely a massive leap forwards from Within This Enervation, but your reaction to it is going to depend entirely on whether you enjoy the ambience of the thing. If you listen to metal for the pure adrenaline rush of the thing then I wouldn’t be surprised if you get through the album’s half hour playtime and feel reasonably indifferent about it. But if you can allow yourself to be immersed in its dark, oppressive atmosphere then this album will be an experience that you won’t forget lightly.
Aeurtum’s Facebook: www.facebook.com/Aeurtum
Header photograph: Charley Munden Photography