01. Wolfsmond 02. Bekhten's Curse 03. Aethra 04. The Sentry 05. Hina 06. And the Moon Turned Black 07. Chandra and the Maiden 08. Goddess of Dirt 09. Inexorable 10. A Light Unseen2018 Overpowered Records
by Kamron K.
I am always amazed at how few people know of Gorod. They are one of the most skilled and consistent tech-death bands on the scene today, and yet they still reside in relative obscurity. Don't get me wrong, anyone following the sub-genre for the last 10 years is probably familiar with their work, but I regularly run into folks who are seasoned metal-heads but don't listen to them, which is unfathomable. Tech death is abundant in modern metal and in a lot of ways it feels like every kid who learned to hyper-blast or sweep pick started a band. It often works though, and I will be the first one to say, many of them are totally proficient at what they do. To stand out in such a crowded subgenre requires real mastery of your instrument. Songwriting must also be coherent and not bombastic. Walking that line is difficult and creating something worth listening to more than once through means creating an impression and developing melodies that resonate with the listener, not just approaching every note with reckless abandon. Fortunately, Gorod know what the hell they are doing. France is a country mostly known for its old-world wines, but it's also cranking out some very compelling music. However, contrary to the feelings of peace and tranquility normally associated with the Bordeaux region's No. 1 export, this is no pinky-out metal varietal. Aethra sets the tone early, opening with a brutal assault launched by complex rhythms, distorted scaling, and blinding speed. It's apparent early on that you will be witness to pure instrumental mastery. One of the most gratifying qualities of this release is the impressive quantity of small, hidden harmonic gems that materialize throughout the journey. One moment you will be road-raging all the way to the office and the next moment intently listening to dissonant solos and proggy transitions, only to be swept back into blast beats and hyper-speed riffing madness. As previously stated, any fan of the band should go into the first listen expecting unparalleled technical musicianship. These guys put on an absolute clinic on every track. Vocal elements are equally impressive and, interestingly enough, there appear to be stylistic similarities to Joe Duplantier of Gojira and Andreas Sydow of Darkane. Whether it's coincidence or a function of regional influence is immaterial I suppose, but it's certainly endearing, and a welcome change of pace throughout the listen. Aethra ebbs and flows, sometimes downright beautifully. Prog elements reminiscent of Mastodon, or The Ocean are stitched into the fabric of the songs and transition well without ever feeling unnecessary. The guitar work gets almost "carnival" at moments, creating an aura of manic hysteria that is also fun to listen to. I liken it to old school ska-core riffs found with bands like Falling Sickness and Voodoo Glow Skulls, with notes jumping and skipping around playfully. Make no mistake though, that's where the similarities end. You will be quickly reminded that this is no $3 Fat Wreck Chords comp. Bottom Line: Aethra delivers everything you expected it to with a few surprises to boot. The sheer volume of solid tech-death released this year is astounding, and much of it is great, but few do it as well as Gorod.