Ered Wethrin – Tides of War (Northern Silence Productions)Thursday, 8th May 2014
For the non-nerdy types that don’t quickly identify where Ered Wethrin gets their name (it’s Tolkien), the band plays atmospheric black metal with many fantasy references. Ered Wethrin is the solo project of Sven Smith, and owes much of it’s sound to Summoning, though not a direct copycat by any means. One can also grab some vibes similar to fellow Salt Lake City pals (and labelmates) Caladan Brood and Dark Fortress. Ered Wethrin distinguishes itself from the crowd by focusing on the more icy and colder end of the spectrum, going from the blackened croaks to the thin, raw guitar sound. Smith also focuses on the riffs to convey much of the legwork, as opposed to synths and added instrumentation, making sure this is a metal first, atmosphere second type of affair.
With lengthy tracks, Tides of War does greatly depend upon the guitar riffs to make sure there are no moments of boredom. This is a mostly successful effort (the closing “Requiem for the Fallen” does have a few overdone moments in the 14-minute runtime), and shows Smith can write some gripping black metal battle hymns. “Into the Stars” seems to be the definitive standout track here, with some majestic yet sorrowful riffs taking center stage through much of the song, with some accompanying synths and clean vocals rallying the troops towards an epic black metal victory. Not that the rest of the album slouches, as some of the melodies on “Bloody Annals and Brooding Skies” give “Into the Stars” a run for their money and there’s always something to grasp onto due to the avoidance of the traditional verse/chorus/verse structure.
Ered Wethrin is off to a solid start with debut Tides of War. The one small gripe is that of the programmed drums feeling a bit too programmed, but that’s an easy fix for the next go-round. It’s great to a band like this really going the distance to make sure that the guitars are still the standout instrument and not just part of the whole, which can lead Smith to a very promising future.