Æolian – Echoes of the Future Review

It’s difficult to fully articulate why I feel so strongly about Spain’s melodic death metallers Æolian. I stumbled upon their debut album Silent Witness shortly after its release in 2018, and while I saw lots of potential in their aggressive take on melodeath, Silent Witness ultimately left me unimpressed to the point that I ended up passing over their 2020 release The Negationist. So when Æolian’s name appeared within the promo sump, why did I feel such hope that this time, this time Æolian would nail it? Was it their endearing Gojira-esque environmental theming, or the fact that I’m a big melodeath dweeb? Maybe it’s just because I found Æolian in their infancy and it’s an intoxicating feeling to see a band you’ve discovered succeed. Whatever the case, that hope spurred me forward as I snatched up Æolian’s third outing, Echoes of the Future, and gave it a spin.

Much of what drew me to Æolian in the first place was their sound, and that holds true in Echoes of the Future. Æolian wanders the well-trod territory of dual guitar melodic death metal, much in the vein of Gothenburg giants In Flames and Dark Tranquillity. The sparse acoustic interludes remind one of In Flames even further. Æolian’s Dani Pérez is a beast of a singer, with an excellent range between filthy growls and howling shrieks. The guitars alternate between thrashing in unison and harmonizing the leads atop a pounding rhythm section, all while the drums and bass blast away. Echoes of the Future takes Æolian’s sound a step further with a mix by the inimitable Dan “The Man” Swanö. As always, his work breathes life into whatever he touches, and while Echoes of the Future is stylistically the kind of melodeath you’ve heard plenty of times before, The Man ensures that the listening experience remains ever pleasant.

Though Echoes of the Future is well performed and presented, the songwriting is inelegant. There’s a certain gracefulness that the music in Echoes of the Future lacks, with a dearth of standout melodies or moving riffs. Even now I still struggle to tell the heavier “Her Grief,” “Into the Flames” and “Echoes of the Future” apart. The more time spent with Echoes of the Future, the clearer the logic behind the music does become. The harmonies of “Like A Blackened Sun” and “Dreams or Reality” have grown on me, but my engagement with these songs, and Echoes of the Future as a whole, only came from interrogating the music, begging it to make sense. Great melodic death metal sounds effortless as the melodies flow like water and lodge themselves in your head. Echoes of the Future, on the other hand, is stiff, and my enjoyment had to be forcibly dragged out rather than naturally earned.

Echoes of the Future occasionally demonstrates excellence that is immediately apparent. “The Miracle” and “Lords of Greed” buckle down and deliver straightforward riffs that stand toe to toe with giants, followed by some damn catchy choruses. Their strong tonal clarity makes these songs the only examples of complete success, while the remainder of Echoes of the Future is littered with good moments that highlight the weaker chaff that surrounds them. An album cannot consist only of moments, and therein lies the rub. Echoes of the Future is a conveyor belt of Æolian’s best self-contained ideas, but their organization fails to string them together in a satisfying way. In that light, one could view the 11-minute album closer “Chronicles of the Fall” as a microcosm of the album. There are great riffs and engaging melodies to be found within these “Chronicles,” but the jarring interludes between sections reflect the flimsy connective tissue of the overall album, and the great ideas are squandered as the semblance of structure crumbles.

Even now after yet another album by Æolian that has left me conflicted, I don’t plan on giving up hope anytime soon. Echoes of the Future is far from perfect, but it represents a huge step forward from their previous work, and the flaws feel like those of restless artists perfecting their craft. I believe that all the pieces of the Æolian puzzle are here, and the complete picture is close to taking shape. Æolian isn’t quite there yet, but with the improvements they’ve made since their formation, I have full faith in what the future holds for them.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps
Label: Black Lion Records
Websites: facebook.com/aeolianmetalband | aeolianband.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: November 24th, 2023

The post Æolian – Echoes of the Future Review appeared first on Angry Metal Guy.

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