Grad school has started, which means there’s been a lot of changes occurring behind the scenes that make me seek comfort in what I already know rather than experiencing new things. However, I couldn’t pass on music from the grandmother country, especially when there’s melodic death metal involved. Given how much I have written on the subject, the fact that I am still interested means that I am completely into finding new elements that seem to illustrate its evolution into something else. The thing about melodeath is that it’s currently evolving into something interesting and electronic. As we hear worlds collide, traditional melodeath – as defined by the popularity of Swedish melodeath, has become more focused on the country or region the band comes from. This has created a different sound that becomes dynamic and much more melodic in tone. With this in mind, we can look to Aeolian, a Spanish melodeath band whose debut album, Silent Witness, has a groovier blend of melodeath that I have not previously heard.
What first caught my attention about Silent Witness is the way the music is composed. For one thing, the guitars chug, as if they lag behind the drum beat. However, once they stop chugging, they become cleaner, with the notes being played in a straightforward fashion. Because of this, the music is dynamic, vibrant, and almost reverent, using the melodic aspect of death metal to full effect. It feels like Aeolian is sticking to the blueprint of melodeath as we know it, and they play it with such skill that it’s almost irresistible. Because of the groove of the instruments and the overall appeal of the soundscape, Silent Witness has a tendency to compensate for its limitations by adding other elements that make the music stand out. For example, “My Stripes in Sadness” has a distinct Obscura influence in their bass playing, fully using their bass as the main driving force behind the main melody of the song. You can distinctly hear it in various parts of the song – they use a highly complex bassline to shape the mood of the song, which makes sure that the music stays concise despite the self-indulgence that can occur. That’s truly impressed me – the fact that they chose to be concise in their playing, but there is still some self-indulgence that occurs, especially with the acoustic passages.
I also sense a slight Arch Enemy influence, especially in “Immensity.” Something about that riff at the beginning of the song made me think about Anthems of Rebellion, and that comparison stayed with me as I continued to listen to the album. There are moments where it seems that Aeolian is playing something from Arch Enemy’s cutting room floor, but with a different nuance. Both Arch Enemy and Aeolian are angry about something, but Aeolian’s anger blisters through their music and, especially, their lyrics. While Arch Enemy talks about tyranny and revolution, Aeolian talks about the environment and how mankind has done nothing to save it despite the sheer amount of things we do in order to make ourselves comfortable. Aeolian makes you feel guilty for feeling comfortable, and then judges you for it. After all, when mankind forgets their role in the world, nature will rise – and will come for us eventually.
All in all, Silent Witness is a fantastic debut with a message that seems to be more relevant than ever before. It has taken everything from melodeath as we know it and built upon it to the point where it is discernibly different from any other melodeath album I have experienced this year. The music is reverent and majestic in a humbling way, and the stark Obscura and Arch Enemy influences serve as fodder for the way the music is composed. Even if melodeath seems to be one of those genres that lives off tropes, I still suggest that you pick up this album. It’s an enjoyable experience, and one that you will be thinking about long after you are done listening to it.