Setherial

Ekpyrosis

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Sweden's Setherial have been at this black metal business for quite some time -- some 15 years and six studio albums, as of 2010's Ekpyrosis -- which, incidentally, had its title inspired by an ancient branch of Greek philosophy that believed in the periodic conflagration and subsequent rebirth of the universe in an infinite cycle. Naturally, Setherial being a black metal band, they successfully set about destroying everything in sight, but then conveniently left it to all of us to clean up their mess, because there is no ultimate redemption, never mind the sweet sounds of birds chirping and bees buzzing, at the end of this album. There are a few minor surprises, however. In the past, the members of Setherial oftentimes seemed only too happy to blaze away at lightning tempos just like Marduk or Krisiun, but Ekpyrosis finds the group taking a page from Watain, Dark Fortress, and other relatively "traditional" black metal ensembles that are actually trying to stay trve, yet compose out of the box. This accounts for the occasionally slower (see the title track) and outright oddball tempos ("A World in Hell") peppered here and there, as well as the not-of-this-world subject matter entertained by the likes of "Subsequent Emissions from a Frozen Galaxy" and "Celestial Remains of the Cosmic Creation," not to mention the elevated melodic presence -- whirling dervishes of melody, but melody nonetheless -- characterizing all of the above, plus the epic twin highlights "The Mournful Sunset of the Forsaken" and "Enemy of Creation." So don't start casting ballots for Setherial's entry into the black metal hall of fame just yet (it doesn't exist anyway), because all this is still far from revolutionary stuff, but the forward progress displayed by Ekpyrosis is finally making the long-serving Swedish group impossible to ignore.

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