ALBUM REVIEW: A Frith Befouled – AEIR

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Narrative driven post metal; those four words will either enthral or repel. High-minded concepts about fuedal misrule, Mesopotamian divination and the more relatable working class dissent and anger fuel AEIR‘s debut album, A Frith Befouled. Counting members of LIGHT BEARER, BASEMENT and MOMENTUM amongst their line-up, AEIR draw from a very particular well of sludgy post metal akin to MELVINS and luminaries NEUROSIS as they seek to pick up where the aforementioned LIGHT BEARER left off whilst also breaking new ground. 

Opener Serfdom acts as scene setter, with wary, unsettling strings gradually emerging from its near silent opening moments. Its demands for patience aren’t rewarded until the very final seconds as it becomes fraught with urgent drumming and discordance. Unfortunately the atmosphere is squandered by the title track that chooses to go back to minimalist beginnings. It doesn’t force quite so much of a wait at least, and when the eruption does come, it’s fittingly massive. 

That title track sprawls across almost a full quarter of an hour but it repeats motifs with little to no evolution between repetitions. It’s weighty, certainly, but there’s a lack of real emotion even amidst the pained vocals. There are signs of life, though as it builds to a crescendo round the ten-minute mark, one that’s followed by the appearance of cleanly sung vocals. The effect is somewhat jarring; the seeming lack of audible harmonies behind them initially might be aimed at sounding more vulnerable but instead highlights the imperfections where notes don’t quite hit their heights. 

It’s bookended both by the opener and another interlude in Curia Regis; it somewhat makes sense given at two songs in, we’re almost at the 20-minute mark of a 46-minute album. Instead of delving once more into instrumental realms, Curia Regis makes use of those clean vocals again, but much more subdued and harmonised. It’s an altogether more ethereal and entrancing effect that works far better than it did with the title track. 

The final two songs hit near enough half the album’s length, at ten and 13 minutes respectively, and continue the musical themes of before. The first of the two, The Threshing Floor, begins serenely with soft strings before unfurling into an almost post-punk inspired drum pattern. It’s like nothing AEIR have done before with the album, but to their credit it doesn’t stick out and instead feels natural in the song. It juxtaposes pained screams against clean guitars, again in a move that is both unfamiliar and a natural progression. Closer Profaned Moira again reuses the quiet open, but the desperate shrieks mark a welcome change. It’s considerably sludgier and more psychedelic than other songs, hinting at more cosmic directions and is the most interesting song on the album for it, with the band trading between winding cleans and more straightforward sludge moments.

Perhaps the biggest gripe with A Frith Befouled is that there’s clearly a lot of promise, but it’s back-heavy in the final two songs. The instrumental interludes don’t lend an awful lot to the album; the title track squanders the tense buildup of Serfdom and The Threshing Floor opens quietly meaning Curia Regis feels like a vaguely connected extended intro rather than a cohesive, essential part of the album. Profaned Moira especially is a highlight but comes too late in the album and seems to hog most of A Frith Befouled’s best ideas. It’s ultimately something of a frustrating listen, but with enough promise that the next go round can build on the strongest areas and deliver something truly unique and standout, especially from a line-up with such post-metal pedigree. 

Rating: 6/10

A Frith Befouled - AEIR

A Frith Befouled is set for release on August 5th via Moment Of Collapse Records.

Follow AEIR on Bandcamp.

The post ALBUM REVIEW: A Frith Befouled – AEIR appeared first on Distorted Sound Magazine.

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