Ephemerald – Between the Glimpses of Hope Review

Welcome to today’s episode of Angry Metal Guy’s The Ministry of Silly Names. It’s early in the year, but we’ve already had some ridiculously-named outfits barrel through these halls, and there’s many more on the horizon. Today, we welcome Finnish symphonic death metal troupe Ephemerald, sporting a name that rolls of the tongue nicely while still eliciting a cringe from those who utter it. This unfortunate portmanteau combining “ephemeral” with “emerald” makes very little sense on the surface. Diving deeper, however, I conjure a number of entertaining scenarios in which it could be apt. For example, if we assume Ephemerald’s mission statement to be to smash emeralds into oblivion with the sheer magnitude of their steel—and if we then assume that they are successful in such endeavors—perhaps the presumed short-lived existence of said emeralds would justify the band’s name. But of course, that entire machination is as nonsensical as the name itself, is it not?

Before we jump to conclusions, let’s deconstruct this hypothetical into its various segments for further analysis. The first presumption states that Ephemerald makes metal that’s powerful enough to crush emeralds out of existence. Being symphonic death metal of the Finnish school, it seems rather unlikely that the group’s debut Between the Glimpses of Hope possesses the mettle metal for such a task. There are plenty of names well versed in this style of fast and fanciful death metal, but only a scant few albums in the gamut capture my favor. It seems that layering endless bells and horns on top of folky power-metal-adjacent chords and bass runs alone cannot compel death metal to a state of ascended strength. On the other hand, Ephemerald’s formula feels more potent than their forbears’. Perhaps the presence of more than just stock power chords and lazy melodies helps, or maybe the baritone cleans and gang shouts add enough Viking warrior’s armor to what would otherwise be easily penetrated. Regardless, I think that Ephemerald’s brew of metal with symphonics creates something heavy and striking more often than not.

My second postulate claims that Ephemerald uses their metal with prowess to eliminate the nefarious gemstone threat. Opening duo “Grand Creation” and “I Bear Fire” seem to support that. These songs get me moving with gusto, fists pounding the unsuspecting air and coming down upon equally unsuspecting surfaces below with unforgiving momentum. Sometimes that surface is my own body and I shatter my own bones. So far, so good. The next two songs blast forth with relentless energy just as the first two did. Unfortunately, they feel less compelling than the explosive openers. No matter. Sensitive semi-ballad “All There Is” allows room to prepare the next attack while “Reborn” rallies and riles the troops, and thus the ultimate demise of rogue emeralds comes swiftly as “No Fall is Too Deep” claims victory for the Finnish battalion. This song alone could destroy even the densest crystals, featuring an infectious lead melody, beefy chugs, enough horns to equip an empire of hellspawn rams, and not one, not two, but three key changes ascending the chorus to stratospheric heights. It’s a triumphant celebration of a well-worn style that these Finns mastered suspiciously early in their nascent career.

The problem is, there are still remnants of those stones which, in my original proposal, Ephemerald promised to obliterate completely. “Servant,” “Reborn” and “Till the Sea Swallows Us Whole” simply can’t live up to the lofty destructive capabilities of the band’s finer wares. They fail to leave a lasting impact on my mind and body, although they are enjoyable in the moment. Furthermore, as much as I like “All There Is” as a breath of fresh air in between assaults, it needs to be extended by another minute before electric guitars pummel the ore. Doing this would allow the moment to draw itself past the point where most expect a payload to detonate, creating a false sense of security and calm that primes the audience for a truly devastating fate. As a final note, I like the production, especially as it regards the guitar tones. Increased bass presence in the mix and a moderate reduction in compression would do wonders to improve upon the mix in future records, though.

Conclusions? Ephemerald earns their name, with perhaps a hint of snicker in the corner of my mouth. The record may seem superficial and glitzy to some, but the reality remains that its best moments strike true and with demolishing force. Scattered between these highlights reside quality chunks of memorable symphonic death metal, with only one or two thrusts that miss the target. Nevertheless, Between the Glimpses of Hope is undeserving of underestimation, and you’d do well to regard it as a qualified triumph for the genre.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Inverse Records
Websites: ephemerald-metal.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/ephemeraldfin
Releases Worldwide: February 19th, 2021

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