Etherkall - Demo 2006
Self-released
Symphonic Metal
4 songs (21'24")
Release year: 2006
Etherkall
Reviewed by Alex

Colonized centuries ago, Canary Islands are a Spanish territory which is geographically in Africa, just off the coast of Morocco and Western Sahara. I always thought that these islands are mainly a resort and some expensive real estate for Nuevo Rich of all nationalities to dump their coins into. Turns out some people on these islands blessed with climate concern themselves with metal. Etherkall is one young band to do just that. Roberto Rodriguez (guitars and vocals) and Fayna Dominguez (keyboards and vocals) form the backbone of the band complete with session bass and drums players. They are currently engaged in the making of a large symphonic metal project and the four songs selected for this demo CD must be representing where the band is moving with their sound and vision.

I know that with young unsigned bands you have to be able to separate musical ideas and their execution, but I would hope Etherkall accepts my criticism as constructive and hires a producer or at least a mixing engineer when they are ready to complete their massive project. For now, the demo remains a collection of interesting, even if disjointed, ideas with execution that makes one really dig deep to separate the wheat from the chaff.

I give Etherkall a lot of credit for not turning their project into another Beauty & the Beast reincarnation. There are no grunts and heavy riffs vs. atmospheric keyboards and angelic singing on the demo, yet some things still feel a little formulaic. If it is slower parts on The Preacher, then they are accompanied by Roberto’s hollow grunts, while faster more melodic moments are sung cleanly. These clean vocals are in no way polished, but there is definitely some charm in them, witness the aforementioned The Preacher and Punishment of Mankind. In fact, with such rougher vocals and heroic storytelling keyboard riffs The Preacher did remind me some of Hammers of Misfortune, especially with its extended guitar lead, even though I doubt the Spaniards know much about the Californians.

IV World Devourers is perhaps where Etherkall is most at home with the rhythmic riffing a la After Forever/Epica, the song’s pompous beginning, some rough, but not too extreme parts, some clean female vocals and keyboards sounding like an army of horns. Symphonic it is, there is no confusion. Too bad, because for all of its designs Etherkall does not quite have the know-how. The mix on the demo is plain below par. Keys are often way up front and drown the rest of the instruments. Even if they let the percussion in on The Preacher, only cymbals and snare are allowed, the bass drum is painstakingly missing in action. For the guitar lead, synth part has to completely seize to exist for the former to be heard. Pushing guitars higher is a must, as The Facts develops from the acoustic strum into drums + keys territory, still completely leaving out the guitars. This leaves Fayna to carry all of the melodies by her lonesome, and she is no Tarja Turunen or Simone Simons or Floor Jensen.

Having played this a few times I got accustomed to what to expect and thus became a lot more patient with the sound. That allowed me to be more thorough instead of giving this demo only one short glimpse. The music deserved much more than that, and I hope some of the people who will be in position to sign Etherkall and put some budget behind it will take the same approach as well.

Killing Songs :
The Preacher
Alex quoted no quote
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