Review: Æther Realm “Redneck Vikings From Hell” [Napalm Records]

Review: Æther Realm “Redneck Vikings From Hell” [Napalm Records]

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There are lots of European bands, which play traditionally American music. But there are also some opposite examples: American bands that play quite European Metal. Since 2010 Æther Realm from Greenville, North Carolina play Melodic Death/Folk Metal, more suitable for the bands from Finland and in their new, third album Redneck Vikings From Hell they merge Melodic Death, banjo (complying with the album’s name) and lots of other stuff.

Their first album One Chosen By The Gods (2013) was a solid, pathetic Viking epos (with quite poor record quality, I need to say). Next one, Tarot (2017) was much more complex: it was a conceptual and very atmospheric work, full of epos and heroism, which takes the listener fully into its world. The band also grew up with their playing techniques and songwriting – just listen to their 19-minutes epic piece “The Sun, The Moon, The Star”! But in their third album Æther Realm start with experiments, making music a little bit simple sometimes, but also making in much more diverse.

Redneck Vikings From Hell starts from epic brass section and heavy riffs of self-titled track, which are changing with banjo and after it the song turns to Melodic Death/Folk Metal, full of pathos; something similar to Alestorm‘s pirate drinking songs and Ensiferum’s epic battle hymns in the same time. With this, the song ends with typical Bluesy outro because “We spell Valhalla the redneck way – C-A-R-O-L-I-N-A!” Nevertheless, in the next one, “Goodbye” all the epic battle mood is going away with its Melodic Death (more close to Modern Metal actually): it will be hard to take out this catchy chorus from your head for a long time and heavy rhythmical riffs will not allow you to stand still. Almost the same thing happens in “Cycle” with much more keyboards.

There is also a lot of speed and brutality in the album: “Lean Into The Wind” starts with violins and then rapidly goes to the fast Death Metal with solid riffs and blast beats. The chorus brings back some heroic atmosphere with some orchestra and it sounds very impressive. “Hunger” and “One Hollow Word” are also fast-paced songs with great drums and awesome melodic choruses. Keyboards add some pathos and the songs become something similar to Ensiferum and Children Of Bodom. “She’s Back” is also fast and brutal but it has another melody: it’s not pathetic at all, there is no epicness or heroism but lots of references to classical music, which sounds great especially when guitars and synth play together.

Some unexpected experiments are also present in this album: “Slave To The Riff” suddenly starts from Metalcore breakdown but then it goes to familiar Death Metal (some Metalcore riffs stay during the whole song though). The second surprise is flamenco guitars in the middle, which fit into such diverse work seamlessly. For its part, in “TMHC” Vincent (vocalist and bassist) speak so fast, it almost turns to some growling rap with 80s music elements in Death Metal style (the band also released a quarantine video with their fans for this song).

And the album ends with 11-minutes instrumental “Craft And The Creator”, the quintessence of the album. It shows in the best way how the band’s fantasy works: the pace, the mood and even genres are changing a couple of times through this track. But in some way all the parts connected seamlessly and form a whole piece, not some badly made Frankenstein’s monster, which made from slanted pieces and barely alive.

All in all, Redneck Vikings From Hell is a very diverse album, full of interesting and mostly successful experiments (although the ballad “Guardian” falls out the concept of the album and the band, as for me). Æther Realm made the songs a little bit softer, comparing to the previous albums, added a bit of humor but these things didn’t ruined anything; this album sounds really great, interesting and fresh.

Redneck Vikings From Hell was released on May, 1 via Napalm Records.

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