Twenty-eight minutes. That’s a short album. Shorter than Slayer’s legendarily fast ‘Reign in blood’ – and that record passes in the blink of an eye. Yet, for all its brevity, ‘Temple’ does not feel like a short album. Indeed, Aeris possess more ideas, even within one song, than some bands demonstrate over entire albums with the result that twenty-eight minutes can sometimes feel very long indeed.
If you follow this site regularly perhaps you have already heard the opening track, ‘fire theme’ (if not – why the hell not? Follow this link now!), posted here a week previously. It’s a monstrous workout that trips across a number of stylistic barriers, from the opening roar of the guitars, through gently psychedelic passages with a post-rock tinge and back into the same furnace of molten, white hot riffs that forged meshuggah and Isis. As an instrumental album the risk is always that the music could drag but Aeris understand the value of keeping tracks short, varied and engaging. Often brutal, but never for the sake of it – the music here follows distinct themes and ideas (section one is entitled ‘Flame’) and whilst not a word is uttered, the imaginative listener will hear plenty in spite of the lack of exposition. ‘Hidden sun’ segues directly out of the opening track, the noise echoing and sprawling across a wide drone-rock canvass reminiscent of Sunn 0))) only for the band to take a turn for the violent as huge corrosive riffs are introduced, the sound that of Khanate stripped of their potent vocals and forced to retreat towards feedback-howling amplifiers that emit furious howls like massed artillery before an attack. ‘Rising light’, the final track in the ‘flame’ section picks up on the raging themes loosely hinted at in the opening theme and delivers a briefly brutal display of technical metal proficiency before collapsing into a crushing silence that announces the end of the section.
The ‘Richard-Horizon-Robot’ section starts with ‘Richard’, a jazz-infused piece that slips effortlessly from Mahavishnu Orchestra style jazz, all syncopated beats and nimble guitar work, to furious metal riffs with terrifying dexterity. This is not music for the faint of heart, and undoubtedly there are those who will find the see-saw nature of the music nausea inducing, but for the brave of heart, the rewards are plentiful as the band unveil a rich sonic tapestry that few can match for peerless musicianship and bolt inventiveness. ‘Horizon’ is unspeakably gorgeous – the mellifluous sound of a harp played in the darkness of a cave filled only with the soft light of dawn slowly appearing through its distant mouth and with vines hanging down from a moss-covered ceiling. It is the sound of comfort and safety after so much metallic devastation, and the feeling carries over into ‘Robot’, the final track of this section into which ‘Horizon’ segues. ‘Robot’, at its onset, carries a jazzy feeling rarely heard in the metallic world and owing more to the work of John Mclaughlin before things take a turn into progressive metal territory, the stunning guitar work of Manuel Adnot and Louis Godart feeding off of each other whilst Boris Louvet and Emerson Paris (drums and bass respectively) lay down a rhythmic backing that is powerful and precise in equal measure. The final section, and track, is the enigmatic ‘captain blood’ which fades in and offers a chrome-plated voyage through the stormy seas of early Pink Floyd (think ‘Saucerful of secrets’ played by Dream Theater) and King Crimson with cyclical riffs, jaw dropping, fluid solos and some of the best drumming you’ll hear all year. It closes an album that is both breathless in invention and yet measured in delivery and there is confidence and competency at work here that sees the band straddle a wide number of genres with deft skill.
Aeris are not what you might expect. From the crushing riffs that open the album on ‘fire theme’ via the ambient drone of ‘hidden sun’, the beautiful atmosphere of ‘horizon’ and on to the devilishly complex jazz-metal of ‘captain blood’, Aeris continuously surprise and push the boundaries of what a band can do on an album whilst maintain cohesion. Perhaps most tellingly this is a band that could equally be at home on the stage of Eric Clapton’s Crossroads festival as on a technical metal stage, the band’s sublime musicianship transcending genre boundaries with a dismissive nod that suggests the band eschews such triviality in favour of the pure act of creativity and the joy of creation. It is an album that will not be, perhaps, to everyone’s taste. It is not an easy record or one that surges with the pure unfettered adrenalin of, say, a straight forward thrash record. It is a complex, beautiful, sprawling, artistic monster of a record that splashes hitherto unseen colours onto a canvass previously thought to be saturated and the result is a record that continues to challenge the listener, no matter how many times it is played.