Aelter lets Green travel into dusty, Western-style noir on fourth album ‘IV: Love Eternal’

AelterI am always pleasantly surprised when I meet and talk to metal listeners who I’ve either know for a long time or who I met through the site and get a scope for just how wide-ranging people’s musical tastes are. It never fails that if I post something on Facebook or Instagram about music entirely not metal, more often than not, those I met specifically because of metal instantly chime in with praise for whatever artist it happens to be. We’re hardly closed-minded.

Because of that, it’s never surprising when noted metal artists break out of their customary zone, or at least the realm for which they’re best known, and create entirely different sounds. We’ve heard that from the members of Neurosis, YOB’s Mike Scheidt, and Windhand’s Dorthea Cottrell, and we’ve certainly experienced that with Wolvserpent’s Blake Green. Now, Green is known to offshoot from that project into other decidedly metal (or mostly) realms with his other ventures, one we talked about last week in Il’ithil, but what he’s created over the long haul under the Aelter banner is something entirely different.

Aelter coverOver the course of four full-length records now, Green has done quite a bit of exploring with Aelter. While not metallic at its core, it certainly can pull in your more adventurous listener who doesn’t mind taking cinematic whirlwinds through space and time. This project has allowed Green to go into folk, slowcore, Western noir, and psychedelic noise, with each record providing something varied. His latest “IV: Love Eternal” finds him traveling dusty roadways, trancing out heavily, and creating a world in which reaching out and exploring the dark corners of every room becomes recommended activity. It’s an album that grows more infectious with each listen and again proves just how versatile an artist Green really is. Not that the fact ever was in doubt.

An “Intro” cut washes into the picture and instantly gives the proceedings an otherworldly sensation, with a dusty Western breeze kicking up, and a weird, warbly transmission leading into “Death Eternal” that feels like it originates in a space opera staged in the middle of a desert planet. There is strange droning and whirring surrounding Blake’s devastated alien singing, and that grabs a hold and never lets go through the course of the album. “The regret and the longing,” Blake laments, as the song hits a haunting haze and steam rises along with the final remnants of the cut. The title track feels damaged and like it’s tossing tumbleweeds over the terrain, with Green noting in his smeary, ghostlike voice, “The desert is speaking.” The whole thing puts a feeling of chilled isolation into your veins, as dark, foggy playing stands at the forefront, while slurring melodies and slide guitars slip into the background and put a heavy blanket over the whole thing.

“Life Eternal” has a similar feel as the other two songs before it, in that it carries on the same spirit. The vocals are quivery and strike me as damaged, with louder guitars looming in the background and charges sparking up over the mire. The track becomes sootier and darker about midway through, with the guitar work leading the way, a steely and spacey state of mind settling, and a few more explosions before the song finally settles into its place. Closer “Hope Eternal” is the longest cut at 11:43, and despite its title, it also sounds the bleakest. The passage is bookended by airy chimes, synth that rises like a vapor, and a sense of traveling through the atmosphere. But in between, guitars begin to churn and burn, with the vocals sounding more forceful and edgier and strong lead melody lines stretching over top. The track is moody and dark as it grows, with the vocals taking on a phantom role, the synth rising back up with force, and the energy ready to dissipate back into the clouds from where it came.

No matter the project or where his head is at during any particular moment, Green is an artist who always has something substantive to say, both musically and philosophically. Aelter has been one of those living, breathing beings Green has created, and “Love Eternal” is another thought-provoking entry into that project’s collection. This is an album that doesn’t really have a right mood or environment when it best fits. You just have to be ready to give yourself up to these sounds, and you’ll be transported right into the dark no matter the season, time, or place.

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