Album Title: Between The Glimpses Of Hope
Label: Inverse Records
Date of Release: 19 February 2021
For every fifty or so emails that I receive every week from unknown or new artists, I reckon that I receive one or two that really fire my enthusiasm. That’s not a massively high ratio, but when I make such a discovery, the effort is worth every second. Just the other day, I received one such email which has led to the creation of this review.
The band in question are called Ephemerald. They hail from the unpronounceable Jyväskylä in Finland, and are labelled as symphonic death metal. The band are comprised of guitarist Joni Snoro, bassist Lauri Myllylä, vocalist Vesa Salovaara, drummer Juho Suomi, and keyboardist Tuomo Sagulin. This is their debut album, and it’s entitled ‘Between The Glimpses Of Hope’, adorned with artwork that, to these eyes, looks like a bleak war scene with fire and ruined structures surrounding a lone silhouetted figure. In general, aside from a few exceptions, Finnish heavy music isn’t renowned for being the most cheerful of experiences, and it appears on first glance that Ephemeral continue that trend.
And so it turns out to be. ‘Between The Glimpses Of Hope’ is a dark, atmospheric affair laced with the kind of aggression and brutality you’d normally expect from an outfit referred to as death metal. It is cold and bleak for sure, but that only tells half the story as repeated listens start to prove. The more I listen, the more inviting the material becomes in something of a bittersweet way. There are plenty of symphonic layers that caress the extreme metal fare, giving the music a more epic feel. There is also well-placed melody, there’s poignancy, and there is a demonstrable folk element at play too. I wasn’t expecting all of this to be part of the Ephemerald sound but it’s here and, in my opinion, it converts the music from being good, to really rather excellent.
Right from the outset, the symphonic trappings courtesy of keyboardist Tuomo Sagulin are writ large for all to hear. Alongside urgent riffing and breakneck drumming, the keys bathe ‘Grand Creation’ in choral sounds and classical layers that add depth and atmosphere to the naked aggression. Vesa Salovaara has a harsh and vicious raspy growl that compliments the music well, although later in the track, he opens up to deliver a commanding clean tone, which sits perfectly within the epic soundscapes that are not afraid to take a step back and allow a modicum of respite, injecting a certain drama in the process.
‘I Bear Fire’ is a stirring composition that offers a grandiose visage immediately, only slightly settling down in the verses to allow a sense of reflection to enter. It is within this song, thanks to the chosen melodies and deep clean vocals, that the folk influences come more to the fore. And it’s a great melody that comes alive in the chorus, despite the uncompromising instrumentation that surrounds it.
One of my favourite tracks has to be ‘Servant’ thanks to the way in which it blends full-on extremity with a mid-section of strong melody where the brutality, led by sharp riffing, acidic vocals and relentless blastbeats, is cast aside for a few rousing moments to great effect. The intro to ‘Lost’ is pure cinematic grandiosity, but the ensuing few minutes are equally as majestic, with the vaguest of hints of Children Of Bodom in the layers of vocals at points.
What I find most impressive about ‘Between The Glimpses Of Hope’ is the way in which the songs feel so massive without ever outstaying their welcome. The album is comprised of nine songs, with an overall run-time of just over 41 minutes. This means that there is literally no fat to cut away. Each song brings something to the table, but then departs instantly upon making the maximum impact.
There’s even time for an acoustic guitar to make an occasional appearance, and I’ve barely had a chance to mention some of the lead guitar work from Joni Snoro. It doesn’t overburden the music, but many of the songs benefit from a poignant lead line, with a few lead breaks injected at the right moments, lending an extra dimension when required. It’s all very much in keeping with a band that seems to know what it is doing, even at such an early point in their career.
For a debut release, the production isn’t bad either. It sounds very Finnish if that makes sense – if I didn’t know the origin of Ephemeral, that would have been my first guess. I would have preferred something slightly weightier and meatier but when you can hear each instrument pretty well, including Lauri Myllylä’s bass, I can’t complain too much. To be honest, there is very little that I can find about ‘Between The Glimpses Of Hope’ to criticise. It won’t set the world alight from an originality point of view, but what it does, it does very well indeed. If you’re a fan of symphonic death metal with melody and proper aggression, then Ephemerald are a name with which you need to be familiar as quickly as possible.
The Score of Much Metal: 88%
Further reviews from 2021:
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: