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Ethereal Shroud – Trisagion Award winner

Ethereal Shroud
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 09 March 2022, 3:52 AM

 “Trisagion” is a term meaning 'Thrice Holy' and used to denote an orthodox hymn in three parts. Each of the songs are split into three movements. Over the last six years, Joseph has composed these three songs that each deal with the increased cynicism and disdain of how he has come to view the world…the way we cling to long-outdated paradigms to guide us rather than what we see in front of us and the refusal to take one another at face value, the rise of fascism as a means to bolster one's sense of self and divide and the habitual method of destroying the planet we live on for short term gain at the expense of those that will come after us, and the esoteric emotions that I feel towards others and the way I relate them to my own way of coping.

“Chasmal Fires” is the first of three tracks. It’s a 27-minute beast, opening with slow drum thuds. Sad and solemn strings ease in from there, then a punishing guitar rhythm and a scream. Subtle melodies develop amidst the deadly Black Metal vocals. They are absolutely beautiful. The drums, vocals and guitars rage while this bright white melody shines. Clean female vocals enter, and they are equally as charming as the melody line. The melody rolls forward, washing over all nefarious sounds along the way. The final push is another sum of melody that is both mysterious and chaotic. Peel back the dead black layers and you will find a brand-new fruit forming in the middle.

“Discarnate” begins with clean, echoed guitars and some background ambiance. The main riff rolls in with drums on auto pilot, and although the screams could melt your face, the melodies can create you a new and better one. Around the half-way mark, it settles with beauty and charm. Pushing to the end, there are bass guitar led melodies as well as from lead guitars. This is an epic track of commanding energy and beautiful despondence.

“Astral Mariner” closes the album with another very long running time…opening with piano notes that are as pretty as they are sad. It’s like a looking at the frail corpse of a beautiful woman adorned in jewels who passed too early. You don’t see the rotting flesh, only her charms. There is a more powerful passage that leaves the melody behind for just a few moments, but it returns in grand fashion. The vocal screams come from a lad who is pleading for his life over and over again. The organ notes at the half-way mark lead to a new melody developing…a parting of the storm clouds with a ray of sunshine if you will. Lead guitars screech and fade, and then an energetic push through the end. A final scream marks the subject’s anguish. It’s over now, and you can breathe the clean air once again.

Power and beauty. Brutality and charm. Punishment and atonement. Energetic and cleansing. I could go on all day here, but this album is so damn beautiful that it makes my heart ache. Joseph is a literal master at each fitting each instrument into the album in a way that creates this synergy that I haven’t heard in some time from a Black Metal album. If only I could go back in time—this album would have made my Top 20 of 2022 for sure.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 8

5 Star Rating

1. Chasmal Fires
2. Discarnate
3. Astral Mariner
Joseph Hawker – Guitar, Vocals, All Compositions and Songwriting, Lyrics, Arrangements
Richard Spencer – Bass, Viola
John Kerr – Drums
Shannon Greaves – Guest Vocals
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 07 July 2022

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