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Gaerea - Unsettling Whispers review

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Band: Gaerea
Album: Unsettling Whispers
Release date: June 2018

01. Svn
02. Absent
03. Whispers
04. Lifeless Immortality
05. Extension To Nothingness
06. Cycle Of Decay
07. Catharsis

Due to the number of atmospheric and melodically focused black metal bands on the block these days, it can often be difficult for newer bands to craft truly unique, standout releases within this realm due to the sheer size of the competition. Thankfully for Gaerea, however, a sense of distinction comes naturally.

The Portuguese Gaerea are a group who revel in anonymity, opting to keep all names of their members a secret and preferring to just let the music do the talking. And indeed, when it talks, it makes quite the powerful statement, treating listeners to a surprisingly memorable and riff heavy brand of melodic, midtempo black metal. This formula was already interesting enough on the band's self titled EP from 2016, but on Unsettling Whispers, their first full length debut, it seems to have really matured and come into its own. The songwriting here sticks hard through a strong sense of melody and atmosphere, not because it's overly forced or ballad-y, but just due to the natural catchiness of the music.

"Catchy" may not be a term commonly associated with black metal, but somehow on Unsettling Whispers Gaerea have figured out how to craft compositions that leave an impression without being overly gimmicky or sounding like something written for a metal radio station. Certain passages on tracks like "Svn," "Whispers" and others can easily get stuck in one's head, and while not of the caliber of a band like, say, Melechesh, there is also an underlying sense of groove and bounce (reinforced by the excellent drum work) that further helps maintain this vibe. The only real complaint one could find with Unsettling Whispers is that there isn't much difference sound wise between the tracks, but frankly when Gaerea's recipe is as tasty as it is, I'd much rather see them sticking in this one area than trying to cover too many bases at once and potentially making the music more chaotic and messy.

While not crafting the most original or mindblowing music on the block, on Unsettling Whispers Gaerea succeed in making an album that injects a fresh dose of life into a style becoming somewhat stale and redundant. It's not that they're doing melodic black metal necessarily in a way that hasn't been done before, but rather that they do it in a way that's more immersive, memorable, and well written than much of the competition they're up against at the moment. While I still hope that in the future Gaerea may expand a bit and demonstrate some greater compositional diversity, ultimately this is a very small complaint. This sound they're dishing out here could definitely end up being a case of "if it aint broke, don't fix it," and if they keep serving this kind of meal, I know I'll end up being a repeat client in their kitchen.

Go and get it.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 7
Production: 8


Written on 10.07.2018 by Comforting the disturbed and disturbing the comfortable since 2013.


Comments: 1   Visited by: 105 users
11.07.2018 - 00:42
Old Nick
Yes! This is one of my favourite bm releases this year.

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