Above The Storm – “Eternal Sun” (E.P.)


eternal sun (e.p)Well E.P.’s can be an interesting way to present your music, if you suck its only a couple songs, so easy to rectify and gather the pieces, but it’s also a great introduction to your music, and predominately can be used to put your best material forward without straddling with b-side fillers. So in general I have a high regard for E.P. releases, but coupled to that my expectations are higher too.

Now a problem with E.P.’s and more so in the punk scene is that they are over very quickly, and if its a good release, you kind of say to yourself, damn, why did they not make a full release, it would have been so much better if they gave us more. Yet on the flip side of the coin if it sucked, well at least you did not have to be dragged through an entire album of it, and thus you were saved by an E.P. release only.

So what was my expectation going into this review, well I was not sure at all. Though with the title of melodic death metal over their name, and the kind of melodic death metal I enjoy and expect to hear, because I am really fussy when it comes to my death metal, my expectations were very high indeed. In fact if it did not grab me in the first few seconds I was going to toss it aside. I wanted something easy to review in the interim of another band I am reviewing that I am awaiting information on. So in all honesty it was something to keep me busy in the mean time. I mean from a band perspective my band, The Old-Timers shared space together on a benefit compilation, entitled “United We Skate Benefit Compilation” a 5 volume which in short is a library or reference catalogue of some of the best Christian ‘rock’ bands currently on the Christian circuit at the moment across multiple genres. Best of all the profits from that release go towards the youth skateboarding outreaches of Christian Skateboarders International in South America and South Africa. This is just so darn cool within itself, never mind the fact that so many bands banded together across a myriad of genres for this. If one word can sum up that release, then “Epic” would be it. Thumper Punk Records and Sky Burns Black Records linked hands in getting it out. You seriously missing out on a massive release, if you don’t go and check it out, and come on; be part of the ministry of Christian Skateboarders International by purchasing it and supporting the ministry work that they do. It is all for a good cause.

So even if Above The Storm sucked, they have still won my respect. Now normally as I said E.P’s can have one shortfall, in that they are often over before ones warmed up, especially punk E.P’s. No fear here even though there are only 3 songs, you are presented with more music than what you might find on a full release punk album (a slight licence of exaggeration).

Now I must have heard my first death metal band when I was 13 years old, 27 years ago, and though initially I was not too moved by death metal at first, as a lover of all things music over time I have grown to appreciate and even enjoy some of the technical attributes of the music. If I am to count myself a true purveyor of music, which I do, since I have an exhaustive collection of music crossing almost all genre’s, then I should even if I don’t really enjoy the style be able to see the diamonds within it. Just because I don’t like a Porsche, does not detract from it being one of the best cars money can buy. I am just a Ferrari guy, even though in many aspects the Porsche is a better buy. Like I would be lying to you if I said I was not a punk guy, even though 90% of the time the death metal I have listened to is way more technical and artistic than any punk album I have listened too.

So Above The Storm released their E.P., ‘Eternal Sun’ on the 25th September 2015 through SkyBurnsBlackRecords , which is owned, and run by Joshua Sky. Joshua Sky is a true purveyor of the Christian metal scene, and a digest of information regarding it. Getting back to the band itself, Above The Storm consists of: Justice Earle – Vocals,Eric Zwierzynski  – Rhythm Guitar, Egor Zimin – Lead Guitar, David Wans – Bass Guitar and Kevin Seng – Drums. They are from Santa Cruz, America and these boys set the foundations sturdy for future releases.

Now to start off, this is a very liveable and lively release. It’s not contained in the conventions of the usual death metal release in that its jam packed with melodic overtones, and rather than just songs, you get actual compositions. It has a progressive characteristic to it that seems to develop through each song, which if this was likened to a progressive jazz album has a lot of elements to it that separates it from the conventional and requires attentive listening too, rather than just good music to head bang too.

It gets on the boil with “Halo of Bats” which offers up some good technical guitar work, and some impressive foot work by drummer, Kevin Seng. The thing is with Above The Storm that I like is there is a hardcore / metal-core element to the band which both the 1st and last song characteristically have bellowing beneath the melodic metal overtones. As I said before they don’t just present you with songs, but rather compositions, in that there are a lot of movements within their songs, which elevate their sound out of the hemisphere of the mediocre. There is a lot going on in their songs, to the extent that I played each song a couple times over just to concentrate on the guitars for instance, then the drums and so forth. They are very tight and clean, yet the overall production as good as it is, does not rob the band of its energy, yet still manages to highlight their technical ability, it’s all very well balanced from a recording perspective. Nothing worse than a band that sounds like they have been shoved through countless compressions where through the mixing process the energy of the band has been degenerated and mixed out of the recording. So “Halo of Bats” is a thumbs up, and a great introduction to the band that lures you in for more. “Eternal Sun” is also a great song, but on this release for me the weaker song of the three, and falls into some of the more expected generic categorizations of the melodic death metal scene. It just did not jump out at me and smack me in the face like “Halo of Bats”. I would not say it’s mediocre, but I just felt I have heard a lot of melodic death metal like this before. Maybe if you a true melodic death metal fan, you will punch me in the face, and say it’s pretty cool, but I would still stand my ground bloody nosed an all on my opinion of that song.

Now on the other hand “Underdogs” I can camp around for quite some time. Without a doubt I can shout from the rooftops that this is the best song on this album. It blew me away on a number of aspects. Its technically astute, jam packed with energy, a love the overall arrangement of the song, you want to climb into the pit but at the same time you want to just sit back and take the experience in. That is good song making right there. I love the guitars, I love the drumming, the music is hard, it’s progressive and dynamic; I inhaled every movement of the song, again I loved the hardcore element; again adding that unique spin to their interpretation or brand of music they play. That bass intro is so sick, love it, love it. On the head bobbing scale the songs scores a 10/10 from me.

So overall Above The Storm play a hybrid progressive form of melodic death metal with hardcore elements that sneak in every now and again. Technically they have a lot going on, and “Eternal Sun” E.P. is a great introduction to the band and well worth the listen, and certainly forges a strong foundation for a full release. Above The Storm is a melodic death metal band that has a lot of promise, and deserve a place in any death metal fans cd collection. They say on their facebook page the following: “Above the Storm’s intent is to compose sounds that captivate the imagination and bring the listener on a journey.” I think that’s an effective summarization of the band, from the band, and the E.P. gladly lives up to that from beginning to end.

Written by Don de Necker

Rating: 8.5/10

Track List: 
1. Halo Of Bats
2. Eternal Sun
3. Underdogs

Band Members: 
Justice Earle – Vocals
Eric Zwierzynski  – Rhythm Guitar
Egor Zimin – Lead Guitar
David Wans – Bass Guitar
Kevin Seng – Drums

Record Label: SkyBurnsBlack Records, Sept. 2015

Weblinks: Facebook

Buy the album here:
First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission


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