Hey there tech-fiends, the early stream train continues yet again here at Tech-Death Tuesday with an early stream of Tæther from Australian prog-leaning tech-death overlords The Ritual Aura. Before we get into that, here's the usual reminder that all prior editions of this series can be perused here. If you missed last weeks early stream of the new Burial In The Sky, that one is definitely worth looking into.
While I'm sure many of you are already familiar with the dudes in Perth, Australia based The Ritual Aura, I always try to give some background and biographical information for any newcomers to any group I may cover. The group had existed for several years under a prior name, until switching to calling themselves The Ritual Aura in 2015. At which point they dropped their first record, Laniakea, which I very much enjoyed. But, if you missed that one, you may have caught them earlier this year when we premiered two songs early from Tæther here at Tech-Death Tuesday.
Both of those songs we premiered from this in April featured fantastic guest spots, with "Ghostgate" featuring both Malcolm Pugh from Inferi, and Drew Griffith from Ur Draughr, and "I Am No Longer I?" featuring Obscura bassist Lius Klausinitzer. Beyond that, both songs offered an early sneak peak at a band whose sound seemed to have both evolved and matured quite a bit. Of course, I was curious as to whether this new growth for the band would be present throughout the album, or if these were simply two of the absolute best cuts on the record. Thankfully, this wasn't the case, as the entire album is fantastic from start to finish.
As a whole, Tæther is a far more progressive oriented album, which was hinted at throughout Laniakea but becomes more of the central focus here. Which isn't to say that this isn't a furiously aggressive tech-death jaunt, more that there is now a whole lot else going on beyond that. For starters, Tæther seems to have adopted an almost Irreversible Mechanism style approach to incorporating orchestral, piano, and other elements in the mix to add a sense of bombast and additional textural richness to the music. Beyond the extensive integration of piano throughout many of the songs here, a lot of them also feature beautiful Erhu playing, which is a traditional Chinese stringed instrument similar to a fiddle. This extensive use of piano and Erhu really helps add some extra layers and additional melodies to the album that makes for a nice contrast to the albums frequently harsh and aggressive technicality driven whole. Add in additional guest spots by Virvum vocalist Bryan Berger on a song, and the return of Drew Griffith from Ur Draughr adding in powerful clean singing on two songs, and the whole damn thing just keeps getting better and better with each new piece of the puzzle they've added in this time around.
Speaking of the core technical death metal sound on display here, that too seems to have gotten quite the sonic upgrade from Laniakea. Sure there's still a fair bit of it that reminds me of a mix between Decrepit Birth and Obscura, but this time around I'm hearing more of a Beyond Creation and The Faceless influence worming its way into the songs. Some of that could be due to the band adding a second guitarist into the fold for this album. The lead playing here is likewise worthy of note, as a distinct Ron Jarzombek-esque phrasing can be heard throughout many of the albums best leads. On top of all that, the primary driving influence of the new overtly prog metal part of The Ritual Aura's sound reminds me of an almost Opeth influenced prog sound.
If you couldn't guess from the track-listing, this is a concept album, so even though it is a long 72-minute album, it's really one piece of multi-faceted music that flows beautifully from beginning to end. But given its length and conceptual nature, I needed multiple spins of it to really get a finer grasp on the experience it offers. Once I did, I really appreciated it even more, and like all good concept albums, some of the best riffs and melodies re-appear throughout as re-reoccurring motifs that help to further thread the concept nature of the release together musically beyond the group doing so lyrically. While 2016 has been an immeasurably fantastic year for tech-death, Tæther is certainly great enough to stand tall with all of the other highly praised technical death metal released this year. So check out our full early stream of it below ahead of its release this Friday, November 11th. If you dig what you're hearing, the album can be ordered through the Lacerated Enemy Records Bandcamp here, or through their labels Bigcartel store here. Be sure to follow The Ritual Aura over on their Facebook page too.