Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Skepticism - Ethere

In 1997, two years after their first album, Skepticism released this EP. This must be a solidification of the intent behind their “Aethe Kaear” demo from 93, both have two ten minute long tracks, followed by the song “Chorale”. The first two tracks on “Aethe Kaear” reappear in a more refined form on “Stormcrowfleet”. The first two tracks on “Ethere” will reappear on the “Lead and Aether” album, released a year later.
“Ethere” marks the first in many subtle progressions in the sound of Skepticism. Upon playing this EP, one notices a much cleaner sound than heard on “Stormcrowfleet”. You can hear the space between each instrument. The record begins with the sound of church bells, massive drum beating, synth strings and whispered vocals. After two and a half minutes of this we are treating to the heavy drone of Skepticism’s patented alien guitar tones. “The March and the Stream” is easily one of Skepticism’s first true masterpiece funeral dirges. After the first round of verses takes place, a minimal piano melody takes the lead, the guitars and vocals fade away, leaving Skepticism to sound not unlike Bohren & der Club of Gore. At the seven minute mark comes a surprise, the drums pick up the pace a bit while somehow sounding even more resonant and the guitars get into a clean toned melodic strumming groove. Of course, this all quickly leads crashing back into another verse of ugly doom. After another round of church bells the band winds down, even further, until they are completely lifeless; drawing to a close one of the finest moments in their early catalog.
“Aether” comes thundering in with epic synth string keys riding across the melancholic murk. Although the riffs are still relatively simple on this release, you are starting to hear the echoes of an emerging talent in songwriting. “Aether” also featured the unlikely appearance of an acoustic guitar, strumming the chords of the outro. This EP finishes with the organ-fueled anthem “Chorale”, which is about as close to a pop hit as Skepticism ever recorded. It is short, catchy, memorable and rousing, even.

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