American readers of this site were likely taught to read not by their parents, but by Starfleet Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge on his Public Broadcasting show Reading Rainbow. Near the end of every episode, just before introducing a few books you might want to check out, LeVar Burton would declare “…but you don’t have to take my word for it!” Much like him, we at AMG
get up to some pretty creepy business on the holodeck are here to help you discover things you might enjoy, but instead of children’s books, we direct you to extreme metal. And while we prefer you let us do the thinking for you, on those occasions when we exclusively debut an album, you have the opportunity to form your own opinions while reading our (superior) takes.
Today we have the pleasure of exclusively debuting Come the Tide, the fantastic new album on Transcending Obscurity by melodeath band Eternal Storm. You can read why I think they’re worthy of AOTY consideration in my review below, but today—and today only—you don’t have to take my word for it!
In a list of my go-to metal genres, melodeath sits at least a good half dozen slots down from the top. Yet when I’m casually shuffling through song after song of caustic black metal, crushing doom or terse post-metal, if I stumble upon a melodic death metal song I love, the “next” button ceases to exist. Chances are I’ll even skip back to the beginning as soon as the final chords fade. Surround myself as I might with dissonant blasts and angular minimalism, all it takes is the first few notes of a melodic lead by Insomnium or mid-era Amon Amarth and all of my weirdo-cred moves to the back burner. There’s something about that mix of primal aggression and soaring emotion that scratches an itch no other genre can reach, so whenever I happen upon a new melodeath record of exceptional quality, it’s almost a religious experience. Come the Tide, the incredible debut album from Spain’s Eternal Storm, is just such a record.
Two part opener “Through the Wall of Light” is an ideal 14 minute microcosm of the various pieces that make up the whole of Come the Tide. Part one, “The Strand,” contains ample Be’lakor and Insomnium melodicism without skimping on the roaring death metal heaviness. Part two, “Immersion,” uncoils the tension slightly in favor of a progressive structure not unlike mid-era Opeth. This includes a saxophone solo—don’t worry, it’s brief and effective—and a subdued bass line that combines with the sound of rain for an extended outro, yet even when Eternal Storm throw in a few bells and whistles, the killer melodies are always front and center. There are hints of blackness here and there, especially on the ferocious “The Mountain,” but I wouldn’t go so far as calling the band’s sound blackened. Pan-seared, maybe.
The greatest strength in an album full of them is Eternal Storm‘s ability to push some elements back and bring others forward at just the right time. Each song incorporates a number of guitar approaches and tones, from clean plucking to tremolos to big death riffs. “Detachment” juggles these expertly, going from stretches of pan-seared tremolos to leads and tones that call to mind Peaceville’s heyday. This ability to flow from passage to passage organically further calls to mind Opeth before their prog fever became terminal. Restraint is also shown with clean vocals, which are sometimes overused in melodeath, as bands tend to forget the second part of that portmanteau. Cleans appear on only two songs, “Through the Wall of Light II: Immersion” and closing epic “Embracing Waves,” bringing welcome texture to the album overall without overstaying their welcome.
Come the Tide‘s second half, starting with “Of Winter and Treason,” changes gears slightly by trading aggression for compositions that unfurl more slowly. There are two 10 minute plus songs, offset a bit by a minute and a half interlude, and if there’s anything I could point to that keeps me from declaring this my AOTY on the spot, it’s the slight time drag that starts with the album’s midpoint. While 60 minutes is not long compared to so many albums I frequently spin, for this kind of melodeath it’s a skosh long. Anywhere from five to 10 minutes could be shaved from atmospheric stretches that last just a bit longer than I like, or dropping the interlude, etc. That said, the quality of music in even the parts that drag is top notch, and the longer compositions have already attracted the admiration of other AMG writers, so take this minor quibble with a pinch of salt.
With Come the Tide, Eternal Storm have given me only the second 2019 album under my charge that had me casting furtive glances at a 4.5. The (relative) fat of the second half along with the thought of accusatory whispers around the office hobo wine cooler brought my gaze lower, but with the added component of time, there’s no telling in what esteem I’ll hold this record. Come the Tide is an incredibly confident and mature debut full of “next” button erasing songs. Its near perfect balance of emotion and aggression has already put it in the upper echelon of my go to albums for when I want to feel both pensive and resolute. I can’t recommend it enough. And oh yeah, Nightwish.