September 22, 2013

Ephemeros - All Hail Corrosion

Review by Justin C.

My first classical guitar teacher had a quirk that I only came to appreciate later on, long after we'd parted ways. Whenever he played something during a lesson, even if it was a snippet of a song or part of a technical exercise, he performed it. Anyone who's taken (or given) a musical lesson knows that it's pretty common for a teacher to quickly demonstrate something, whether it's a bit of technique a tricky rhythm the student's not getting, and it's often done in a fairly offhand manner. Not for this fellow, though. He would sit up, arrange himself into the perfect playing position, and make music. Even if he was just playing two notes from a scale, he approached them with the utmost musicality.

I share this anecdote not because you're particularly fascinated with my own musical history, but because it helps explain why I think Ephemeros's album All Hail Corrosion is so compelling. This is epic funeral doom, slow-moving and full of menace. The album only has three tracks, with the shortest one clocking in at nearly 11 minutes. The vocals are roared, and the instrumentals are simple and restrained. If you listen to just an excerpt or two, you might be forgiven for thinking that any power the music has is through drone and repetition, but that's far from the case. The riffs might come in the form of slow, single-note lines, but the musicians ring every bit of musicality they can out of every note. The melodies may evolve slowly, but it's not a matter of waiting through 20 repetitions to see what changes. They play every phrase like it's the first one on the record, and every one of them sounds fresh. You don't wait around for a blast of noodling or a killer riff that disappears as quickly as it arrives--you take in every long, low, buzzing note.

There are plenty of great moments that could be singled out--the creepy, alternating-note guitar figure that opens the first track, or the first vocal howls and thundering bass and drums that erupt after the guitar line has had plenty of time to set the stage. There's a haunting outro in the second track, and there are some fantastic, sludgy guitar harmonies in the final track, a track that builds into a restrained fury before coming to what, for this band, is almost an "abrupt" ending. But picking out the little interesting bits almost does the album a disservice. I think to really appreciate this, you need to let the whole album sink in on one setting, carrying you along on its crushing, hypnotic journey.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

  1. There's enough movement in the riffs and drumming to keep it from stagnating under its own weight like most funeral doom.

    I agree with JC's conclusion. Better to absorb it as one track then to pick it apart for the killer moments.

    1. I haven't had time to hear more then a little bit of the first song :( I'll make sure to wait until I can set aside time to "absorb it as one track"