ETERNAL STORM – Come the Tide

ETERNAL STORM – Come the Tide

On their debut album the Spanish progressive melodic death metallers set a new standard for the genre, comparative to Insomnium, Opeth, Be’lakor, Omnium Gatherum or In Mourning yet built from elements of various genres, with perfect songwriting and perfect execution, for a masterpiece of epic proportions.

Let us begin by trying to describe the feelings this MUSIC, this Antonio Vivaldi meets Ludwig Van Beethoven by the way of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart on guitars and keyboards – the feelings it engenders in the listener. If faith can move mountains (Matthew 21:21) then music can move hearts, minds, souls. According to a 4 year old study from University Of Queensland, Australia, reported by The Guardian, rather than proving the hypothesis that “extreme music causes anger”, the theory that “extreme music matches and helps to process anger” was supported instead. The music helped the study subjects explore the full gamut of emotion they felt, but also left them feeling more active and inspired. Results showed levels of hostility, irritability and stress decreased after music was introduced, and the most significant change reported was the level of inspiration they felt.

I believe heavy metal music is FIRST about "the feeling". I have given countless of albums low scores because they didn’t have it, few had it in abundance and I rewarded them accordingly. It is important to assure that I am not talking about positive or negative here. What I mean is the feeling which is so richly textured in different hues and colors it might as well be God speaking through it. This is exactly the kind of feeling I get from the aforementioned "The Burning Cold" or this here, Eternal Storm’s debut. It is the feeling of temporary, at once emotional, psychological and physical happiness you get just by listening to these enchanted notes. If theses are, say, Homer’s Sirens luring their victims in to devour them, consider me lost, even if they are merely a psychological archetype for our unconscious desire to ascend to a place where we would genuinely want to stay forever, a place Eternal Storm musicians simply call "The Mountain".

The album is about ascending to this place and then descending from it, suffering the consequences from those who never got to ascend as we return to our mundane, so often seemingly pointless, existence. Jesus Christ, for instance, ascended to such a mountain with his two dearest friends, John and Simon Peter, and they were so taken by it they exclaimed "It is good for us to be here!" (Luke 9:33) while Eternal Storm elaborates, saying, "Even though we are born alone, we grow accompanied, accompanied by feelings, joys, sorrows, blood, laughter. Every step we take on our journey brings us closer to the place where, at last, we can grow, the place where we really want to be. Here is where I belong. This is my mountain, this is my place". There’s a heavy price to pay for the ascension and, while Jesus was arrested, tried in a kangaroo court, tortured and brutally, painfully murdered, Eternal Storm’s, inspired by Ursula K. Le Guin’s "The Left Hand of Darkness” hero, The Mountain Wanderer-King, gets accused of treason and exiled. Thus "Come The Tide" is a two-part story, just like Truth (tracks 1-4) and Consequences (tracks 5-8) or The Fall and Redemption, if you will.

It is imperative that the music matches its lyrical outline, which emphasizes "the feeling" and, interestingly, Eternal Storm exemplify the perfect balance of lyrics and music, just as the perfect marriage of melody and the extreme in death metal music, whereas, comparatively, most bands lean excessively towards either side in melodic death metal. Nothing on the album is forced but flows naturally, almost intuitively, and transports you to a tumultuous place where you take in the beauty as well as the wrath, according to the label’s promo, and I, for one, could not agree more. In fact, there is no formulaic thinking on this record whatsoever. Sure, melodies and riffs, entire motiffs do repeat, but not in a song-like structure but rather as part of a single movement, whereby the album is comprised of 8 different, truly different, as in "differing from each other" symphonies rather than songs, in which it resembles the aforementioned Beethoven.

Enough of the appetizers, let’s get to our two-course meal. As the album’s acoustic beginning recalls classics such as In Flames’ "The Jester Race", delicate strumming ushering in the two part "Through The Wall Of Light", "Pt. I: The Strand" begins our ascent, moving through Katatonia melodicism to Insomnium-like riffing, with vocals reminiscent of early Anders Fridén (In Flames) asserting that "sometimes you have to filter out what hurts…to recover from my wounds and empower myself", gradually unwinding in a In Mourning/Dark Tranquillity fashion, very complex and multimelodic, while simultaneously warm and familiar piece, which, as track 2, "Pt. II: Immersion" begins, seamlessly welcomes acoustic transition/intro a’la early Opeth (with clean vocals sounding different from Lars Mikael Åkerfeldt’s) with a brief saxophone solo and more death/doom reminiscent of Great Skies Fallen, for now merely teasing with black metal tremolo, finally ushering in the first of the amazing guitar soul-piercing melodies strongly reminiscent of Antonio Vivaldi’s "The Four Seasons" and then Peaceville (Anathema, My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost) Trinity-like rusty riffs end "Pt. II: Immersion" for a heavily blackened "Detachment", one of the best twin axe compositions I have ever heard, the kind progressively unraveling and then culminating in melodic bliss that is second to none, not unlike Be’lakor’s "Fraught". As Eternal Storm gets increasingly progressive and even more blackened (think Insomnium’s "Black Heart Rebellion"), "The Mountain" liberally draws from Omnium Gatherum with beatiful keys atop "Dismantling Devotion" Dalight Dies wail and a gorgeous Dark Tranquillity-ian piano outro, for definitely the most romantic track on the record, resembling the aforementioned Mozart, poetry second only to music, as "bleeding feet heal…burning lungs can breathe free, the sweat and tears…spilled through this life…rewarded with the wonders of this place, whereby we proclaim: "here is where I want to be forever" therefore, "never give up" for even though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16) and "from a wanderer a king will grow". And we are merely half-way through this journey, which, at this point, finds us exactly where we want to be, on our Mountain.

Following "The Mountain" Eternal Storm switches gears to describe the effect The Mountain Wanderer-King, if you will, has on the world he leaves behind, as the consequences or the redeption, unfolds. Many melodic death metal bands would start to relax at this point, to quote the Bible, having served the the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then that which is inferior (John 2:10), but not Eternal Storm for they are just starting to show what they are capable of with deceptively initially slower, "Of Winter And Treason", my favorite, where "The Fourth Dimension" Hypocrisy (complete with Alf Peter Tägtgren-like growling roar vocal stylings) marries Barren Earth chasing progression a’la Ne Obliviscaris, Vivaldi, too, making another appearance as if emphasized by the atmospheric choral end, doubly emphasized by a much needed break in the form of a brief synth instrumental, "Drifters". "The Scarlet Lake" confirms my budding theory the Spaniards are leaning more toward the Peaceville doom/death for more slower, but by no means less intricate and magnifiscent constitution, as Swallow The Sun’s "Deathly Nightshade" meets Omnium Gatherum, Be’lakor, and technicalOpeth, with Red Moon Architect for a fantastic, again, Vivaldic harmony, "the feeling" at its apogeum. Had they left it at that they would have outclassed all that is present day melodeath easily enough, but no, "Embracing Waves", (started and finishing with a sea roar) takes Omnium Gatherum’s "Beyond" to new levels profusely, again, bleeding Peaceville, Beethoven shining through the lead work, and, good heavens if that closing melody at 10:00 mark is not worth dying for! The titular tide came and embraced us, who the world was not worthy of (Hebrews 11:37) and we are all better people for both the Mountain which elevated us and the deluge that washed us away from this cold, indifferent, unforgiving world of Mammon worshippers.

With their debut album Eternal Storm took the progressive melodeath world by, well, storm, proving that the genre has not said the last word and emotive masterpieces are well within reach of extremely talented and imaginative extreme metal artists. Believe the label’s hype for from this wanderer a king WILL grow.