2018 has already blessed us. Aerith is an exciting new band that metalheads should be flocking to right about now. Aborted drummer Ken Bedene has teamed up with his father Frank Bedene on bass and his friend Aaron Green on vocals to pull one hell of a great debut, self-titled EP effort.
The record hit the web last Friday and is currently available for streaming and purchase over on the official Aerith Bandcamp page! It consists of 6 heavy hitting tracks that clock in at about ~25 minutes when played front to back. Speaking of which, I’d truthfully recommend to just stop reading right here and start listening. It wouldn’t bother me because the record is fantastic in so many ways that words won’t do justice. However, if you read on, I’ll give it a try…
One may receive chills from the very first sound waves this EP has to offer. The beautiful weavings of clean guitarwork sit atop a bed of growing atmosphere. These elements only grow more complex as the “The Wanderer” finds his way into the record’s first single “Beyond Terminus”. This second track is exactly what got me so interested in this EP to begin with. It rages like a whirlwind of unknown fury only to subside into a beautiful eye of the storm provided by Melissa Rosenburg’s sweet vocal cameo. In a way, this track has always pleasantly made me think of a Melodic Death Metal version of a band like Fallujah (who happens to be among my favorites). The overall effect of this number is chilling, especially when the Benjamin Ellis solo rips in. For those who are unaware, Benjamin is a guitarist for Scar Symmetry who also previously tore sounds to pieces with Bloodshot Dawn.
Now, this leads us to one of the most interesting qualities of the Aerith debut. Every single track, with the exception of this EP’s opener, brings on an amazing guest solo. Every. Single. Track. So, if you happen to be a fan of amazing Melodeath style guitar shredding, you’ve landed in exactly the right place! That being said, let us continue dissecting this aural adventure…
“Fractured Soul” breaks in an almost nostalgic Gothenberg style that could remind listeners of something akin to In Flames while simultaneously being a beast of its own. Once again, Melissa compliments the track nicely twice before guitarist Mike “Lonestar” Carrigan of none other than Darkest Hour marks his spot following a peaceful acoustic segment. “Fractured Soul” marks the last of the clean vocals on record as the audience proceeds towards further depths.
“Temptress” is another installment with a much more, if not the most, timeless, melodic approach among the track list and boasts a Chris Themelco (Orpheus Omega) cameo. One can just feel the emotions radiating from this music! The sound bite sample “vanity is definitely my favorite sin” brings things to a close. This leads into a slightly more violent number “The Uprising” which quite literally ups the heaviness with a groooovin’ opening which launches into some awesome riffs and interesting composition. As tradition goes on this EP, John Abernathy (ex-Conducting From The Grave, Wastewalker) comes crashing in with a sweet solo about halfway through before things turn back in the direction of tight grooves and riffery.
“A Cosmic Calling” was the second single to emerge from this effort and immediately demonstrated the variety of sounds to be found as an absolute ear wrecker of a track. It also marks the final number that this EP has to offer, closing the event with some ridiculously awesome guitar solos provided by none other than the man Marios Iliopoulos (Nightrage).
I don’t have any real criticisms of this record. It’s everything a debut of this style should be in 2018 and some. The composition is solid, the sound / production is sharp, the emotion is high, the scale is vast, and the features are mind bending. So, if you don’t enjoy some good metal music or that of the Swedish sounding variety, this record might not be for you. For everyone else, hop on board! In terms of subjective criticisms, I’ve never been much of a fan of Melodeath style synth but that had no actual bearing on my enjoyment of this record as it was very generally subtle, rare, and far from unenjoyable. In fact, the band usually leans in a more symphonic approach which really compliments the music, bringing things to a whole other level of “epic” at times. I suppose some listeners could also wish for a full-length record here but that’s a petty complaint – especially at this point in Aerith’s career. I suspect the sky is the limit for this band moving forward.
Thematically, this self-titled is a complete nerd fest in the best way. While I haven’t fully read into the lyrics, the band name itself is a reference to a character from the beloved game Final Fantasy VII and the cover art, provided by Nik Burman, treads two worlds with a really interesting sci-fi / fantasy theme. It’s always intriguing to see bands build up their own universe between sound and imagery and this is no exception. It also adds to the overall sense of enjoyment and replayability… as if the melodic hooks and contagious nature of the music weren’t enough!
2018 has barely begun but I’d reckon this EP belongs on some “end of year” lists already. In my opinion, the Aerith self-titled is among the more refreshing Melodeath projects I’ve heard in a while. It manages to stay true to the roots of the style while simultaneously reining as something exciting in its own right. This mixture rings bells of greatness over the body of music found here. And all six of these tracks pull a further feat of being different from each other in notable ways while keeping another foot planted on the path of the record’s main approach. There’s layers to this.
To sum up the experience, I think the metal fans of this world should certainly give the Aerith debut a chance. After several listens, I’m mulling over a score somewhere between a 9 and a 9.5 out of 10 so we’ll land it on the higher of those two numbers. Kudos to these musicians!
Once again, if you’re interested in streaming the EP in full or purchasing the monster for your collection, the effort is currently available on Bandcamp! You can also follow along with the band, show love, and stay up to date over on Facebook. Any and all support here is well deserved so you know what to do! In the meantime, stay nerdy and keep a lookout for what may happen next!