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Ea : A Etilla

With their new album, Ea have found the perfect balance between accessibility and sophistication.

Ea are a band you can rely on: they release a new, quality, album every two years and you recognise their style immediately. Ever since they first formed, their music has always clearly belonged in the field of Atmospheric Funeral Doom, and yet each of their albums has some quality of its own. It is not an easy task for a band to strictly remain within the confines of a given genre and still maintain a recognisable sound of their own. Avoiding stagnation under this premise is an even greater challenge, and few bands succeed in this balancing act. A Etilla, the anonymous comboís newest output, proves that such an accomplishment is possible: it surpasses all of their previous efforts in many ways while remaining true to their origin.

Since this is their fifth album and the basic formula has not changed dramatically, there is little point in outlining the bandís style in any detail. Rather, let us examine how it compares to the earlier releases. It shares two particularities with its direct, self-titled predecessor: firstly, the entire album consists of only one track, and secondly, the composition gets more and more interesting as it progresses. But while the first half of 'Ea' almost seemed like a prelude for greater things, the new record feels more coherent and delivers a subtle dramatic build-up which slowly draws you into its deeply emotional soundscapes. The later sections may be more intense, but they follow logically and seamlessly from the preceding arrangement and nothing ever feels redundant. Thus, the songwriting and structuring is more accomplished this time.

But there is more to it than that Ė the albumís superior quality is associated with a number of factors. For starters, it is more dynamic than any of the previous releases: the musicians rely less on repetition, instead adding a good deal of variation and incorporating some faster, almost Death Doom-oriented (but by no means aggressive) sections. In other words, by Funeral Doom standards, there is quite a lot going on here. 'A Etilla' will take you on a trip through different moods and atmospheric nuances without ever seeming inconsistent. The drums support the dynamic changes very well, but at the same time they sound tighter, avoiding the unsteady fills which marred some of the bandís earlier material. The lead guitars have always been one of Eaís strongest trademarks, and they never disappoint here, either: supported by a more than solid rhythmic foundation and brought to full fruition by the atmospheric embellishments, they deliver melodies ranging from great to beyond beautiful. As usual, the distorted and clean lead guitars alternate with piano and synth lines, but the synths are less prominent this time, leaving more room for what the band excels in. For better or worse, the occasional female chanting, meandering guitar solos and screamed vocals have vanished completely, but the composition is so intricate that you never get the impression that something is missing.

Ea have successfully walked a tightrope where many other bands have (or would have) fallen down along the way: their newest album is like a paradox, combining the lightest and most accessible Funeral Doom sound with sophisticated, deep and emotional songwriting which puts many other contemporary bands to shame. Within the bandís given stylistic framework, the fairly inexpressive hoarse vocals and somewhat cheap-sounding synths may be the only two factors which are slightly unsatisfactory and thus keep this album from receiving the highest rating. Other than that, it is hard to imagine how the style could be developed any further without changing it considerably. The verdict about 'A Etilla', therefore, is quite simple: fans of the band need it (and will probably have bought it already), but it is also an excellent place to start if you have not heard of them yet. On the other hand, those who prefer the more aggressive and/or tortured types of Extreme Doom should continue to steer clear of the bandís work.

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Reviewer's rating: 9/10


Tracklist :
1. A Etilla

Duration : Approx. 49 minutes

Visit the Ea bandpage.

Reviewed on 2014-06-07 by Dominik Sonders
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