Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Skepticism - Lead and Aether

1998 saw the release of Skepticism’s second full length album. This record begins with a couple massive stabs from the pipe organ. This part sounds a lot like the big chords at the end of the “Ethere” EP. “The Organium” comes thundering with the usual Skepticism magic. This album is clearly a distillation of everything they have been working on since the finishing “Stormcrowfleet”. The sound and styles have all been carefully sculpted over the years. It is almost too consistent, making this album seem a little predictable after spending a long time with the preceding two EPs.

The second track offers the familiar stomp of “The March and the Stream”, this time all stripped down. There is no piano, no church bells, no whispering, but still beautiful in this simplistic rendition. “The Falls” is filled with romantic melodies, really hinting at the kinds of gorgeous progressions that are to come, including a stunning breakdown at the halfway point and another breakdown, this time featuring an acoustic guitar, just a few minutes later. “Forge” is classic hypnotic sludge, crawling along through murky and depressive riffs, and reaching towards an epic pounding climax. “_Edges_” continues at the sludge pace of its predecessor, but lines its cold drone with majestic synth lines that fill the mind with ancient landscapes and sorrowful remains.

The final track is a new version of the song “Aether”. This time it is more subdued than the first version, on the “Ethere” EP. The playing is way more lifeless and disconnected. You get the impression that maybe the guitar player is falling asleep. Soon we come to a dramatic extended synth breakdown, which is a nice break after an entire album worth of pounding doom. Of course, this breakdown only lasts a couple minutes, and then back to the death march… eventually the drums fade out leaving only guitar noise and then silence. After fifteen seconds of silence, Skepticism comes crashing back in with a powerful, mid-paced coda, only to fade back into the ether for good. Though it may be sounding a little “typical” to me, now that I am listening closely to their complete discography in chronological order, “Lead and Aether” is a great album from a brilliantly unique and singular band.


No comments:

Post a Comment