ETHEREAL RIFFIAN - Aeonian (Another Robust Review)

Reaching a Different Kind of Nirvana: Ethereal Riffian’s Aeonian
Oneness. Sensation. Awareness. Not necessarily in that order – these are a few of the track listings you’ll hear when cracking open a portal into Ethereal Riffian’s mesmerizing Aeonian. And like the definition of the title itself, the effect is everlasting – if you’re up for a sonic hangover and a complete submission into enlightenment in the way that only music can achieve.

Edge of Enlightenment
Brooding from the overtones of late 60’s psychedelic meshed with grunge, the band’s second album ascends to an acme of multi-sensual revelations through the ritualistic poundings of heavy metal and otherworldly chant. It’s as if the Gods of Valhalla have become oversaturated with carousing and entered a temple of Tibetan monks, consequently resulting in a beautiful explosion of the universe. If order comes out of chaos, then Ethereal Riffian delivers it aplenty in the hammering dissonance of its grinding chords juxtaposed against the twilight of soft, cosmic sounds. Literary parallel: in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake reveals “The path of excess leads to the palace of wisdom” and there is a dark/light resonance of that mantra in this work.

The listener is plunged into an excess of thick sound and delirious vocals in “Thugdam” (Sensation) which transforms into a pulsing, chanting interlude to the next track. After the numbing repetition of the first few minutes, new melodic sequences, a change of dynamics, and the colorful harmonics of acoustic instruments begin to depict a new sequence, fading away into oblivion before the “March of Spiritu” (Rise of Sheol). Ghoulish sounds rise from the ashes of the first track’s inferno, before transforming into a seductive, lyrical guitar heralded by pounding bass and snare – an intoxicating, poisonous line which is then crushed by riotous noise once again. A return to the chanting motif, heavy crashing and whirling in and out of light, fleeting guitar rifts in the upper register make the juxtaposition truly magnificent, almost as if sucking the listener in and out of different dream states. Whatever the incantation, there is a sense of an entire world being discovered, every change sweeping with every key progression and build-up of rhythm and dynamics.

Ethereal Noise
At no time is the album afraid to plunge into head-on fury or celebration. This is not meditation for the meek, and something reminiscent about Dante’s hell lingers here. But this is purgatory, friends, and the heavy-chorded heavens are not far behind.

“Wakan Tanka” (Awareness) weaves a mysterious tapestry of sultry drum beats, mellow, brooding guitar, and a drone-like yet snaky sound that simulates something in between Tibetan chant and a didgeridoo. The first few minutes play around with a few musical ideas, slowly developing the motif and enabling the listener to reach a more meditative state. The drone-like chant is truly haunting, and the power which follows is a sublime climax. Truly celebrating the marriage between the celestial and the human, this is the track that unleashes both fear and beauty, pushing through its cathartic-like growls, moans, and cries before reaching enlightenment itself; the listener has reached their zenith. “Anatman” (Oneness) is a therapeutic come down, healing, fluid yet exuding a strong sense of stillness. It is the meditative state at its most powerful, floating in cosmic ecstasy one moment with the musical silhouette of distant flutes then plunging into power chords and menacing whispers once again. At intervals it ideas seem to reflect a strong Pink Floydian flavor reminiscent of the DarkSide of the Moon era and all its metaphysical, music glory before dissipating into a disjointed, sweaty silence. It truly is an experience to undertake, one which is violent yet tender, wrapped in the lust of excess one moment then divining under purity the next.

After thoughts
It’s difficult to undertake a journey like this and not be reeling afterwards. While each track is substantial in its own merit, it is the album in its entirety which lends to the ultimate sonic aesthetic and spiritual pilgrimage. Ethereal Riffian is clearly going for an experience which transcends the norm and gives listeners something to clamp their teeth on. It’s the kind of album which is more than just about expelling angst, but even discovering components of the self by healing through its many ups and downs that mirror human nature while striving for something higher. There is a definitely therapeutic element of it like Ethereal Riffian’s other works, and like much of related metal/stoner music the potential to carry a universal yet intimate spiritual resonance at liveperformances is great. As a second album, Aeonian encompasses an already developed, mature understand of sound dynamic and concept, yet remains refreshing in its scope.

So shut off the lights, lay back on the floor, and let the encroaching darkness of the room envelope you as you let Aeonian fill your vessel and take over.

(Reviev by EVE)


Beneath Oblivion - Interview (11.02.2015)

 Here comes an interview with a wonderful fella - Scott Simpson of Beneath Oblivion.

Hey man! Let’s begin! We haven’t heard anything from Beneath Oblivion for awhile; why is that and are you preparing something new?

Hello there PhillO)))! We haven’t put out any releases for a few years because we’ve been writing new stuff and playing shows. We’re not one of those bands which can just churn out a bunch of run-of-the-mill riffs and songs. It takes time and sincerity, and you really have to get into that black corner of your headspace which is hard to visit sometimes because you don’t always see things you want to see, and it’s not exactly a comfortable place to be. Furthermore, if I was always in that mode then I don’t think I’d ever want to come into contact with other people.. we usually have to shut ourselves in to make these sounds happen. Now we have a whole bunch of material to be released soon. It’s always feast or famine brother..

Does the thick beard help you improve the skill of writing doom songs?
Haha. Not particularly, its just an acceptable way to look unkempt.. It’s hard to shave everyday when you’re on tour or when you’re mind is elsewhere. Plus it seems that when I have a beard people are much more polite to me. If I’m clean shaven people will treat me like a child, or they talk  down to me like I don’t know anything.. just a strange observation I’ve made over the years.

What influences your songs the most and what is reflected in them?
What kind of muse comes to you?
I get influenced by everyday life. Living, loving, hating, having to go to a shitty job.. all of it finds ways to shape the music. We also enjoy a fair amount of classical and sometimes contemporary literature. I just got off of a Cormac McCarthy kick, and recently Allen loaned me Hubert Selby Jr’s “Last Exit to Brooklyn,” so I’ve been enjoying that. Sometimes when I’m in a rut, just reading a few passages can put me right back into the muse and motivation.. It helps to see that someone else who’s life was a complete mess was able to get up out of his drug stupor and write something incredible. 

I’ll dare to suppose that you like to listen to the loudly playing Black Sabbath on a tape recorder and cook barbeque. And what do you think about their last album? Did you like it?
I do love to listen to some Black Sabbath, and pass the joint while turning some steaks or slow cooking some ribs.. I wish I could cook meat in the apartment I’m living in. My girlfriend doesn’t like me using her utensils for that. We make compromises, and so I listen to a lot of Dead Can Dance, Pallbearer, Khanate, or Goatsnake while cooking pastas, soups, and Asian cuisines. Maybe I’ll have to come to your place and we’ll cook some porterhouse steaks with scallops, crab legs, stuffed jalapenos and potatoes.. We’ll drink Scotch and smoke some good herb. That latest Black Sabbath album has some killer riffs and guitar tones.. Anything Tony plays is golden, though I’ve gotta say Ozzy’s vocals and lyrics on that record are terrible! I liked the last record they made with Ronnie James Dio a whole lot more.. It was doomy as fuck.

I’ve heard that the name Beneath Oblivion came from a novel that was written by one of the band members.
What was the story about?
I came up with the name Beneath Oblivion back in 2003 when this band was in it’s infancy and I was jamming with a bunch of different people. I’ve written a lot of short stories, prose, poems, etc, but I haven’t yet finished any novels. The story of the name was that it was a line in a poem/prose piece I’d written.. something like ‘to go beneath oblivion and...’ I really don’t remember, but what I do recall is seeing those two words together and thinking about how it spoke volumes while saying very little. To be beneath oblivion is to be less than nothing, it’s to be so low, it’s to be non-existent. It’s being in the darkest spot life hands you. It evoked the same feeling that was coming out in the music and in the harsh vocal style.. It seemed to be a perfect fit and still is.

Do you remember your first concert? What emotions did you have while standing in front of people on a stage for the first time?
My first concert was AC/DC when I was 13 years old. I never thought I’d play music at that level, but it restored my desire to pick that guitar back up even though I’d had a bit of a struggle to learn how to play, and I’m still doing it today. Years later I saved my money to get a Gibson SG because I wanted to play in a riff band just like Angus Young and Tony Iommi.

And now a bit about the band members. What do you value the most in each other and what do you hate? What makes you stick to each other?

Well I can say that I love all of the other members of my band, past and present. Keith is like my rock, that I can always count on to pick me up when I feel like I can’t go any further or do anything. He’s someone that it genuinely feels good to be around and he helps me out immensely with things even though he has little time and is just trying to get his ass finished with college. Allen has riffs for days, and is someone I always kind of looked up to. We’ve got a long wild history, and having that second guitar there just makes the music so much heavier. Jimi, the new guy on drums is someone I’ve been friends with for a while.. he loves and knows funeral doom, noise and all around minimalist music, so he’s a great fit! As far as things I hate, I’ve gotta say I wish there was more time in the day and that we had all the means and money to do this and nothing else, but then I guess it wouldn’t be a struggle, and I suppose in that case it wouldn’t take on the same meaning anymore. That’s just the way she goes I guess.

What would you call the hardest and the tensest part in your music life (playing live, getting up early with hangover having to go somewhere else, sleeping in tight and smelly tour buses, etc)? 
Some of those problems we’d be lucky to have, like being on an actual tour bus.. Scraping money together every month to pay for the rehearsal space is tough, doing everything yourself is tough, when you see some shitty bands pop up in under 3 years without a full-length record, but start touring the US and Europe and become the darlings of the press because they are paid off.. that’s pretty disheartening for a minute, but then I realize those bands are just dildos, and won’t be around for 10 years or so. That’s when you can call yourself a real band, when you’ve stuck it out a while and you’ve stayed true to your ethics and vision. Thank goodness for zines and folks like yourself who do it for the love.

What do you think about critique on the Internet? How does it help the band’s creativity? And do you do what you like despite other people’s opinion?
I never really read things about myself or my band on the internet because it doesn’t matter to me whether people like me or not, I’m still going to be playing. I didn’t get into this to make friends, or be part of a stupid scene where everyone strokes each other off; I’m just playing doom. I probably should be more social, but that’s not me. I don’t give a shit about anyone else. My only competition is with myself. I don’t typically care enough to impress anyone else because I’m doing this for me, and if someone doesn’t like it they can go listen to some hipster bullshit. 

Who of your stage colleagues stands out for you among little-known bands? Which one of them deserves being heard by everyone?
I really dig Bloodmoon from California, Usnea from Portland,OR , Destroyer of Light from Austin, TX, In the Company of Serpents from Denver, Communion of Theives from El Paso, Twingiant from Phoenix, Fister from St Louis, Tombstalker from Lexington, KY, Seider & Panopticon from Kentucky, Black Tar Prophet from Nashville, Before the Eyewall from Columbus,OH. Coelacanth, Grey Host, Highgate, Mala In Se, Machinations of Fate, Faithxtractor, Estuary, the Vladimirs, Opium Doom Cult, Thorns of the Carrion.. All of which are from Cincinnati. Check them all out.

What band do you think is the heaviest in the sludge/doom community?

That’s a tough one.. We’ve played with Jucifer, and I’d have to say they are heavy as fuck! When I listen to Monarch! or Moss I’m always pretty floored. Disembowelment, Meth Drinker, Corrupted, Winter, Warhorse, Grief.. It’s real tough to say. 

The sound on your last album was very heavy and strong. Did you record it at a professional studio or at home? By the way, what instruments do you use and what guitar pedals can you advise to novice musicians?
FROM MAN TO DUST was recorded in an old factory which used to manufacture shoes during the World War II era. We tracked all of the drums in a big giant concrete room with mics all over the place while the guitar amps were isolated to get a tight sound, and then overdubbed in the big room to get the same massive sound as the drums. We mixed it with our guy Andy Perkins, then we had Billy Anderson master it. I’ve gotta say we had no clue how it would turn out, because the whole thing was kind of an experiment, but the result was pretty damn good. Our newer tunes SAVIOR NEMESIS REDEEMER (coming on a split 7” with Fister) and THE LIAR’S CROSS (coming on a split 10” with Mouth of the Architect) were recorded in a studio in Northern Kentucky by our bud Marc Kennedy, then mixed and mastered by Andy Perkins.
My rig is a custom made cabinet with 4x12” Celestion guitar speakers and 2x12” bass speakers by a Cincinnati company called Omega Enclosures, with a Laney GH-100L head powering the guitar speakers and an old school (from before they started making them with cheap components) SWR 300 Workingman Series bass head powering the bass speakers so I get an extra layer of sludge and filth in my sound. I have a couple boost and distortion pedals I absolutely love by a boutique company based out of Arkansas called Taurus Pedals. They are about to send us a bunch of new pedals I can’t wait to try out! I’ve also been using a pedal which adds a leslie organ effect to my guitar by Earthquaker Devices out of Akron, Ohio, and other than that I try to keep my sound pretty dry, because if you add too many effects you start sacrificing heaviness, tone and sheer cut through sound. For guitars I usually use my ‘06 Les Paul Studio, which I’ve hot-rodded out with some Seymour Duncan Invader pickups in the bridge and DiMarzio Super Distortion pickups in the neck.. My backup guitar is a Fender Telecaster, but honestly, whenever I’m playing that or any other guitar I’m wishing that I was playing my Les Paul. 

Thank you very much from Robust Fellow! Don’t be shy, add something in conclusion))

Thank you PhillO))), I appreciate what you do, and I appreciate all of the positive support we’ve been getting from Ukraine, Russia (I wish the two of you would get along :-)), Croatia, Czech Republic, all over the Balkans and throughout Europe. It seems that in the States everybody listens to what the big magazines and media outlets owned by larger corporations tell them to listen to, whereas the smaller zines go quite unnoticed by other Americans but Europeans catch onto the good bands with enthusiasm. It’s quite strange. I blame it on our fat, short-cut taking, non-thinking fast food culture. I find it quite interesting as well how our brand of extreme doom metal has been embraced in currently and formerly wartorn regions, even in places throughout the Middle East. What exactly does that mean? I’m hoping it means people in places of oppression and totalitarianism, or places with a brutal past are able to listen to this bleak music and move forward into doing the best they can with what is available. Abandon all ideology, religion, and government allegiance to reach enlightenment; get real high and listen to the FROM MAN TO DUST album in the dark. It’ll take you places and it’ll help you work things out before you stand back up and press forward. We’ll have a new record out soon that will take you on a similar journey. 

(Questions by Alexander Bilous & PhillO))) 

Receive the heaviness during Beneath Oblivion's US Tour in May 2015: