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Eirš : Rituals (Reissue)

A majestic, eclectic journey rather let down by the ending, Eirš deliver an album worth investigating.

Germany's Eirš are not a band that I am overly familiar with. Indeed, I had some fun just trying to find things out about this band. The earliest results were that this album was released through Ukrainian label Loneravn Records and that I was to expect "Atmospheric Doom Metal" on this release. It's pretty imperative that Doom Metal in general has an atmosphere though, so I am not entirely sure what that term was supposed to mean!

I have to hold my hands up and say that this release is hard to classify though, at least from a Doom Metal perspective. I'm leaning toward Funeral Doom but it may have a home in Avantgarde too. I've not heard anything quite like it to date. It probably sounds strange to suggest it but this release veers between relaxing and haunting with alarming ease. It's predominantly done well though, which helps, but it's still unusual to encounter.

Vocally, this is yet again a decidedly unique release. You won't even find any until the second track and then they're female vocals being sung, not growled or anything of that nature. The closest I can get to comparing them would be to the female vocals that Totem/Jex Thoth used on 'Totem' although not quite as ranged. They sound a touch religious at times, which I am inclined to believe is the leaning of the release, given the odd choir-esque backing. Somehow the band fuse the sung vocals with the simultaneous crashing of the cymbals in the background really well; it helps to create a brooding yet powerful atmosphere which leaves you on the edge of your seat, awaiting the next movement of this epic journey. Occasionally, there are also some very bizarrely sung male vocals that genuinely sound like noises E.T. would make if he could sing; I didn't like that.

"Epic journey" really is the correct term to describe the opus that is the album "Rituals" and yet it's not a term I tend to associate with Doom Metal in general. The earlier tracks are majestic and soaring. You feel like you're part of a fascinating story whilst listening to the beginning of this composition. The band's ability to effortlessly shift the intensity levels affords them complete command of the music here, and I never had any impression of it being otherwise, making this a very measured musical adventure. Having said that, I do feel like Eirš have tried to take this release on a different journey on each track and the danger with that is if they get something wrong, it could tarnish people's experience of the album. Unfortunately, I feel like that's precisely what happened on the final track.

On 'Rituals III - Futhark', I started to get annoyed. I had really enjoyed the preceding tracks because it felt like they were prologues for a magnificent finale and they were excellent in that respect. However, on this track, the band has seemingly tried to incorporate Electronic elements and it doesn't work at all. I've genuinely sat here for a while now, trying to work out if it's intentional or whether the track itself is corrupted because it sounds awful and much to my dismay, I think it's intentional, based on the fact that there's a gradual fade toward the end. Either the band wanted to create a song that sounds like it was recorded under the sea or it's corrupted because Electronic music completely nullifies every other musical aspect of this track. I like Electronic music but it doesn't work here at all - it's just annoying. It's a shame because from what I can hear, the song itself sounds good but the Electronic side of things completely ruins it.

Whilst on the topic of annoyances - as this review is based upon a download, I'm afraid I have absolutely no idea as to what it's actually about, which is a shame - I like to see what has inspired releases. There are religious overtones to this music that intrigues me as it's not a particularly common element to find in this genre but I cannot find any further information on this front, sadly. I also don't understand what the 30 seconds of silence at the end of the second track was about; it didn't really seem to fit the music. My main issue is still the third track, though - I'd give this release a higher rating if it wasn't for that atrocity.

This is not your standard Doom release. This Funeral Doom/Avantgarde bonanza starts off majestic and soaring rather than dark and depressive and cumulates in eclectic Electronic frustration. It'll still take you on one hell of a journey, however - that much cannot be denied. I think the majority of Funeral Doom/Avantgarde fans will appreciate the first couple of atmospheric tracks here but I'd be surprised if anybody liked the ending because it's overwhelmingly annoying. Give the album a whirl, though - there are unique elements on 'Rituals' that are worth experiencing and I am curious to see what other people's interpretations of this release are.

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Reviewer's rating: 6.5/10


Tracklist :
1. Ritual I - Alpha
2. Ritual II - Geimferd
3. Ritual III - Futhark

Duration : Approx. 42 minutes

Visit the Eirš bandpage.

Reviewed on 2018-04-29 by Ian Morrissey
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