Etterna – Chaotic (Sliptrick Records)

Sunday, 11th November 2018
Rating: 7.5/10

Always game for new blood from outside countries, here is Etterna, a five-piece melodic progressive metal-oriented act from Slovakia. They’ve been around for a couple of years, and Chaotic is their debut full-length – an eleven-track odyssey that seems to traverse multiple moods across the spectrum, establishing a versatile approach right out of the gate. With the recording taking place over 18 months and at an interesting pace (two to three songs recorded together at a time, then writing separately and returning to the same process), you can understand the development of varied dynamics that occasionally grab AOR/commercial influences just as easily as extreme or alternative nuances.

The jagged bass/drum development during “Before Our Lives” gives the crunchy/jumpy riffs and forceful melodies that much more rocket fuel propulsion, rivaling classic Eldritch (although the staccato, down-tuned conclusion with growls seems a touch out of place). You can hear Etterna deliver multiple ideas and flesh them out over the course of the song – where the focus one second can be on the musicianship, or the next a quicker rapid-fire lyrical delivery, almost rap-like during specific verses of “Swan”. Stunted progressive measures signal a love for all things Dream Theater during the opening strains of “The Independent Dreamland”, but the subsequent guitars and groove-oriented rhythm section work weave in a bit of that alternative/modern feel, something you would expect possibly from Trivium for instance. Drummer Tomas Visnovsky becomes a mini-Scott Travis for “Demon” – the vocal harmonies coming across from that 90’s alternative/emo era, while the guitar harmonies possess a bit of Scandinavian melodic death flair.

Ultimately this genre-hopping that takes place song to song can be detrimental to Etterna establishing a solid platform. It’s one thing to possess the ability to add three-four different flavors to the mix, but most people getting into a band for the first time want some consistency top to bottom. The quivering melodies in spots from singer / guitarist Ady Hnat during “Betrayed Love” take away from the otherwise moving acoustic guitars and proper drum tempo to support the proceedings – one of the back half highlights for sure.

Chaotic is a melodic metal album with progressive-minded ideas, sure to spark the imaginations of many who like versatility in their bands. It could be interesting to see where this act goes on future outings.

Etterna official website