I kind of forgot about Fear Factory for a while there. I can give no particular reason for it, they simply slipped out of my mind and slunk through the front door, down the stairs, into the street. But a band with such a unique sound was bound to return, at least in doppelganger form, burrowing back into my head. It took a minute to get my thoughts in order, but after mentally crossing out Godflesh, I knew who Ereley were pushing back into my brain. It wasn’t the pure stuff though. They crammed in prog organs, legato leads, and lilting melodies, cutting and carving the grey industrial grooves into something else entirely.
For the sake of the dialectic, I’ll attribute all of that to Riverside. These two opposing forces – industrial groove and chill prog – push and pull across the length of Diablerie, Ereley’s sophomore record. Diablerie’s path is never predictable but always smooth, ably connecting moments with very different sounds. “Room 666” begins with a melody that could have been pulled straight from a Woods of Ypres song, but intensifies through Fear Factory riffing and crosses a bridge that’s more effective in its role than its Riverside influence should allow. The band’s mix of prog rock and industrial metal doesn’t always produce winners, and there are moments on Diablerie, like the beginning of “Nephilim” that had me convinced I was listening to a Rob Zombie record. But those brief disappointments are fleeting, and the band’s fluid songwriting sweeps them away quickly.
Ereley’s odd aesthetic space allows them to pursue a few unusual arrangements. Crooning vocal hooks and cheesy synths recall Ghost but always arrive with an odd coupling. The aforementioned “Nephilim” transitions from a very spectral verse to its finale with a neoclassical guitar/piano line. For music that uses building blocks as simple as this, knowing how to arrange all of the pieces is paramount, and the few notable missteps here all stem from an error in composition rather than an ill-conceived idea. “Hex” starts out well but ends up beating you over the head with an overbearing synth line. Diablerie’s worst moments are mostly of this nature – the band lean too hard on a riff or a synth melody and sap the momentum of a song.
As a synthesizer-dense album, Diablerie can at times sound a bit too slick for my liking. A grimier sound might win over a few crust-lords like myself, but I can see why the band might want the Diablerie sound to be a bit sickly-sweet. The Rob Zombie comparison never quite leaves your mind, and the band pull out a couple classic “spooky” licks in later songs. This works great when you want a cheesy radio metal record, but grate against the tender Riverside – like moments. It also saps any sense of seriousness out of the moments where the band really double down and deliver a bit of intensity a la Fear Factory.
With Diablerie, Ereley have proven themselves capable of creating a unique sound, but the album will be a tough sell for many. The band seem unfocused and undermine their own ambitions with corny material that could have been swapped out for something much more interesting. Rock listeners will gravitate towards the same commercial qualities that metalheads recoil at but might not have much interest in the album’s heavier elements. Prog fiends will get bored by its simplicity. Diablerie is a record that won’t particularly excite anyone, myself included, and that should come as no surprise – how many people out there are really into both Fear Factory and Riverside? And of them, who would want the combination of their favorites to sound so much like Rob Zombie and Ghost? That Ereley can make such a thing palatable is an achievement. Making it exceptional seems near impossible.