04 Aug 2021 - Thorsten
Blackened Melo-Death Metal | Eisenwald | Release date: 30 Jul 2021
Netherbird is a Swedish extreme metal band – and that may already be enough for some people to walk away from them, because many have heard that combination so often that they think nothing new can be offered by Swedes doing a combination of Black and Death Metal combined with a blue-sky-clear production and an ear for melodies. If you are one of them, do yourself a favor and listen to Netherbird!
Yes, this band has a line-up that features musicians who have played in such well-renown acts as Amon Amarth, At the Gates or Dark Funeral and in certain moments you can hear these bands in the sound of Netherbird. But – is that really a reason to cast their latest record Arete into the “been there, heard that”-pile? Blimey, NO.
The band shows a knack for combining the best of several worlds as mentioned before and they do so more than convincingly. Every moment on Arete is perfectly balanced between anger and fear, despair and hope, as it is the completion of a trilogy started several years ago with The Grander Voyage continued on Into The Vast Uncharted and now finalized with this full-length released (again) on Eisenwald. The label shows their open approach to metal, as Netherbird stands nicely next to bands like UADA or Idle Hands who have also been called too clean for metal. However, this Epic Black Metal record is not as simply laid aside because it is really addictive as it gives the listener just the perfect amount of nice melody-work in every song to still be considered aggressive enough. If you want more dirt, listen to Every Time I Die. More speed? Take some Agoraphobic Nosebleed. Or simply choose Converge to get both.
This is metal played by masters of their craft and it shows in every song: the guitar-intro opener ”Âme Damnée” accompanied by background thunder and lightning and some strings. Listen to the lyrics, there one can find the fear and despair that you cannot find in mainstream songs: ”Journey inwards through restless nights / Chains cold ignites the ancient fires / Towards the mystery of purity“, why these nights are restless? Because purity and perfection are a mystery, an image impossible to achieve for any human. This strife for a form of purity, of perfection (as implied by the title of the record, as “Arete” is nothing else basically) is something that only gods can arrive at. The second track ”Towers Of The Night” (see the lyrics video at the end) connects perfectly to the opener, with all its classic Heavy Metal solo, the engaging drumming by Fredrik Andersson and Nephente’s vocals charged with admiration for the gods and fear of human imperfection. This is Melodic Death Metal at its best (maybe they are the gods?) and undeniably immersive! When the third track ”Void Dancer” opens with its dual acoustic guitars dancing around each other and around Nephente’s wonderful whisper-sung vocals (”The longing for meaning/ A melody followed in vain / Time’s an evasive fiend / And purpose’s a painful path to sustain”), that is the moment that finally decides whether one is too bored by the genre or able to let go of past records or experiences and just indulge in this record and its sound. Either one can or one can’t!
Another thing that should be mentioned here is the perfect production as the record is so crystalline clear that it reminds one quickly of Sweven’s miraculous debut last year or of records by Morbus Chron. No surprise there, as Sweven recorded their record in the same studio where Nephente’s vocals and Fredrik’s drums were recorded. Producer Sverker Widgren did a marvelous job highlighting the abilities of every member of Netherbird and giving the vocals just enough space but never dominating the instruments. Every little lick, riff or short guitar part, each drive of the rhythm section is given its due space and volume and hits the bull’s eye perfectly.
Arete is a home run hit out of the stadium and placed so perfectly that it will break the window of the most stubborn critic by simply delivering Melodic Death Metal hit after hit. No matter how many silly strikes are being thrown at the record, each is simply sent back to sender! Do not miss on this miraculous record!
Here their video for “Towers Of The Night”: