|Immortal Frost Productions
Although with huge delay, last February I had the chance to introduce to you the New Zealander project Apnea, up to that time with only the EP "Silent Cities" (2012) under their belts. Drew Reid (vocals, bass, guitar, drum programming) and Ben Mikkelsen (guitar) had then released an enjoyable first work, although ridden with a few up and downs in terms of quality and a general predictability, characterized by an all-but-perfect production.
Near the end of 2014, the band released their debut full-length album "Ethereal Solitude", introducing the compatriot vocalist Sean O'Kane Connolly (Gaoth Anair, Obsidious and ex-In Dread Response) as their third member, while the label was once again the Belgian Immortal Frost Productions. How did their music change after that embryonic and emotional foundation, attractive but inconstant, that we had seen in their previous work? Generally speaking, it got more mature and better refined. Starting from that initial standard, Apnea found a way to better balance the grittier black metal sections and the bittersweet post-rock and shoegaze influences.
The central part of the album is the perfect example of this, as proven by the three maritime songs ("Hearts Sea", "Blackest Oceans", and "Celestine Tides"), where the strength of the reckless waves and the calm and funereal tranquillity of the darkest depths fuse together, giving birth to an enchanting scenery. This record marks a clear step forward for the band. The instrumental performance is more dynamic, especially when it comes to the rhythmic section, which was previously arguably one of their shortcomings. Nevertheless, there are still some areas that can be refined, such as the sound of the drums. They proably will be, as it happened for the sound of the voice on "Silent Cities", that has been made much cleaner on this release.
"Ethereal Solitude" is a likable collection of emotions, a listen that will allow you to abandon yourself to its sceneries, alternating relaxing and disturbing landscapes, getting away from the urban greyness. Thanks to it, nature is just within earshot.