One Chosen by the Gods
01. Journey of Discovery
03. Æther Realm
05. One Chosen by the Gods
07. Winter’s Grasp
08. Odin Will Provide
Æther Realm are the best melodic death metal band deceptively not from Finland you’ll have the pleasure of hearing this year. Their sound can only be described as Wintersun sitting down one day for a horn of mead to discuss being beyond great, when Eluveitie show up and decide that it’s time for collaboration. Their debut effort One Chosen by the Gods certainly incorporates orchestral touches for that added huge sound, but never lets the heaviness of the music fall by the wayside or simply get lost.
The instrumentation choices for the orchestral portions of the music vary throughout the album. Instead of going nuts with it and writing in every instrument they could think of, there’s a lot soling out certain parts in order to add different types of inflections to what the band are doing. Most songs let the orchestra come up to breathe with the band from time to time, but act more as an accompaniment than anything else. One that stands out in this regard is ‘Ravensong,’ which sticks pretty closely to an Amon Amarth feel more than anything else and incorporates the least amount of orchestral work out of any song on the record. Then there are songs like ‘Oak,’ which closes out the whole record by throwing everything at you to make sure you haven’t forgotten the full power of the band as a whole. The album’s introduction ‘Journey of Discovery’ is almost all orchestral, save for an acoustic guitar, and shows off the compositional prowess of the band without having to be in the context of a heavier song.
Focusing more on the band themselves than their stringed backdrops, you’ll find some astounding playing. Despite all being ridiculously good at each of their respective instruments, there are never any big showoff-y moments when one member overpowers the rest. Guitar solos? Rhythm section is keeping the energy going. A little room for the music to breathe? Nobody’s trying to fill a void that doesn’t need to be filled. If there were ever an excellent display of musicianship, One Chosen by the Gods would be it. Then there’s vocalist Vincent Jackson Jones, who’ll have you convinced that he’s capable of hands down the best damn screams you’ve ever heard by the end of the album. The man legitimately sounds like his vocal chords were crafted for no other purpose.
The beauty behind One Chosen by the Gods is that there isn’t one specific component that pulls the entire album together to make it enjoyable. Everyone and everything on the album as a whole works together in a powerful, wintery harmony that’ll have you banging your head just as much as it’ll have you wishing for a longboat and a Viking hat. Æther Realm have crafted something that far exceeds just another symphonic metal album, and taken that next step into fine-tuning their craft into a masterpiece.