If you're completely unfamiliar with Æther Realm, you might assume that they are a technical, progressive death metal or deathcore outfit. Their name is somewhat reminiscent of ethereal and celestial qualities that many deathcore and death metal bands convey through their music these days. Æther Realm, however, takes influence from European folk metal bands such as Ensiferum and Equilibrium to craft their own unique blend of American melodic folk metal. Their debut album, One Chosen By the Gods, was released early in January and, if you can look past the rough cover artwork, you're in for a wild ride.
While the European folk metal influences are the most prominent, American influences are also present. The vocals are particularly reminiscent of Skeletonwitch, which is a big plus. I am not a big fan of most folk metal and this is largely due to the vocal stylings typically employed by folk metal vocalists. The vocals on One Chosen By the Gods, however, are extremely hellish and punishing. There are no operatic or chanted segments that are typical of many folk metal bands and this helps keep the music flowing in the right direction.
In addition to superb vocals, the instrumentation on One Chosen By the Gods is also top notch. A breakneck pace is kept up through the album's duration and you'd be hard pressed to find a dull moment. The blistering melodic death compositions are complimented with well-done symphonic elements. While I'd normally say that too much synth makes a piece of music sound cheesy and hokey, it works well for Æther Realm.
Æther Realm takes all of the best elements of European folk metal and combines them with several uniquely American elements to craft an outstanding debut record. You might be tempted to pass on One Chosen By the Gods after viewing the cover artwork, but the music contained within is of a much higher caliber.
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