Ether Coven – Everything is Temporary Except Suffering (Century Media)Thursday, 2nd January 2020
Sludgy riffs can be entirely oppressive and violent if need be. But far too many bands forget that they can be just as suffocating in a depressive sense as well. Something that Ether Coven show with morose splendor on Everything is Temporary Except Suffering. It’s all about balance for the Remembering Never offshoot (who have previously released material under the name Ether), and it makes for an intoxicating listen.
Ether Coven takes the weighty, sludge-driven riffs of a band like Crowbar and bends them into something that feels decidedly depressive and haunting. The gloom is out in full force, whether it appears in a moody atmosphere or a thickened and chunky riff. The 11-minute opener “This House is a Tomb of Memories” gives the first taste of both of these sides of the band, switching things up between more melodic and mellow sections with sorrow-drenched clean vocals and applying full heaviness with the aforementioned guitarwork and potent roars that feel as somber as they are brutal. The biggest surprise though, is how fast these lengthy, 10+ minute tracks zip by. One has to accredit some of this to the tremendous display of both force and restraint at the proper intervals, as well as their ability to flow from quiet to eruptive with some excellent transitions. Some songs lean more in one direction than the other, like the more punishing “Flower Crown” and the gentle gut-punch that is “House of Strangers,” but most tracks find a common ground in melding the gritty sludge with melancholy (“Of Bitterness and Shame” masterfully twists between jolting heaviness and doomy chugs) . They even spin around Bjork’s “Unravel” into a slab of genuine doom, to the point that it blends so well with the rest of the tracks you’d swear they made it themselves. There’s a real genuine emotion to it all too, further pulling in the listener into the darkened abyss that swirls around from beginning to end.
Able to provide both a visceral and emotional kick, Ether Coven start off 2020 with a somber bang. While the term ‘hauntingly beautiful’ gets thrown around quite a bit, Everything is Temporary Except Suffering really embodies this spirit, while bolstering it with some moments of anguished ferocity.