Review by Gar Spiller for MPM
There’s certainly a clear resurgence within rock at the grass roots level in the last few years; one that is, without a shadow of doubt, gathering a tangible strength of late.
There’s a depth and breadth within which bands have been taking the ‘wheel’ and projecting forwards with much positivity. There’s those, influences worn proudly on their sleeves, who roll with what this ‘wheel’ has, and will represent; past, present and future all rolled into one.
Others are adding an edge, giving a 21st century take on things; a metaphorical ‘polish and wax’ if you like whilst others are taking ownership of the ‘wheel’ and reshaping and restructuring to re-route the whole caboodle upon a fresh bearing.
Young Devonian hard-rocking progsters Ethyrfield inhabit the latter; their debut long player ‘In Delirium’ demonstrating a musical freshness, a maturity of lyrical adeptness and a melding of influences producing an unparalled metallurgical alloy; one that is rarely experienced in the considerable volumes generated within the nine tracks so consumately delivered within.
This is the monumentus ushering of a new melliflous sunrise; so few are the occasions I have felt this. One reflects upon hearing Metallica’s ‘Ride The Lightning’ for the first time or the initial play of Mother Love Bone’s 1990 opus ‘Apple’; the seeds of thrash and grunge germinating; the unprecedented excitement of reading the first words of a chapter being written before your eyes.
Opening track ‘River’ tumbles into the fray in a rather unexpected fashion and it’s all the more framed in angst-ridden beauty for it. The acoustic six-strings of Ben Cornish have a touch of Jimmy Page about them with a wondrous vocal layering of harmonies atop which gracefully ascend upon musical thermals. There’s a dash of 70s prog here with Rush springing to the fore but it’s an undercurrent that doesn’t detract from the overall freshness.
Matters are heavied up with the intro of ‘Sunstroke’ derives it’s inner beast from early Sabbath enveloping the grunged grit of Soundgarden with vocalist / bassist Zach Cornish continuing the stunning vocals given forth in the opening track. Full on the trio are a powerhouse with drummer Dan Aston percussive prowess married by Zach Cornish’s sinous bass notes combining to power alongside the seemingly effortless lead of Ben Cornish.
The band switch, with consumate ease, from the high-end full-on energy to emotive, sympathetic passages at the drop of metaphorical headwear. It’s seamless and leaves a void at song-end; an absence of sound, an empty barren landscape that requires colour. The listener is left wanting more.
The wizardry continues apace with ‘The Hunter’; hewn from similar rock that ‘Sunstroke’ had been quarried from but with the addition of magical, swirling hammond organ notes laid down by producer Josiah Manning (Kris Barras Band) that give an ethereal edge that smokingly entwines about the unmistakable grungy prog-based direction that Ethyrfield are hell bent upon making their very own.
A quieter interlude with an eastern vibe precedes the ramped up crescendo of the outro before title-track ‘Delirium’ lands in the centre of prog-metal rumpus with Josiah Manning’s keys driving matters along in a Jon Lord style. The mid-song solo is as delightful as it’s completely unexpected; such is the genius at work here that this jazz fusion passage really isn’t out of place in the slightest.
There’s several ‘movements’ within in this six-minute that serve to give the overall nu-classical feel to proceedings as the band ebb and flow with faultless composure. Not content with tipping the hat to Dream Theater, Haken et al one can note an affinity with Focus and in passing, even, Steely Dan.
Further symphonic sorcery is afoot amidst the prog-metal majesty of ‘Laying On Of Hands’ with hushed interludes invoking early Marillion which contrast gloriously with the heavier passages fabled of darkened denizens.
The acoustic start of ‘Overgrown’ serves well to highlight Zach Cornish’s unique vocals before gently cascading into the song’s emotive main body. A softer perspective of Ethyrfield is discovered herein and Ben Cornish’s succulent solo is absolutely saturated in feeling; lighters lit and held aloft in total respect on a fresh take of a ballad. Ethyrfield style naturally.
It’s at this stage that one begins to realise that there is a recurrent theme of quality and an identity is forming; taking shape as the rocking trio develop their own sound. ‘Serenity’ is simply that; an Ethyrfield sounding track. Instantly recognisable coming from their talented quarter; majestic harmonies, growling vocals paired with punchy riffs and sensitve notes alongside a unerring rock solid beat.
The first single lifted from the album ‘Remembering’ deals most sympathetically with the incredibly difficult subject of dementia. A calm, almost serene beginning gradually builds up as the gears are notched upwards into the stunning solo at the midway stage.
This will have the hairs on the back of your neck standing upright for sure. This is the mature output that one would expect from a band that is atop it’s career; the hard thing to comprehend that this is coming forth from a trio whose average age is less than 20 years and this is their debut album!
In Delirium’s closing track ‘Bitter Wishbone’ rocks out the album in fine grunge-style that one has come to expect from Ethyrfield’s two Eps. This is a heads down all out metallic treat that will flagellate the listener in such a way that one begs for more. One is left knowing that a game-changing moment is underway.
Incantations indeed. Thunder and lightning. Enter three musicians. “When shall three meet again? In prog, grunge or metal?” enquires the first.
“When the record’s finished. When the music has lived and won.” answers the second.
“That will be ‘fore the recording of the next” muses the third.
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ethyrfield/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/ethyrfield/
Website – http://www.ethyrfield.com