I was quite excited to see a new Spectral Lore release so soon after the masterful Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine – a colossal split with Mare Cognitum. This new album is pretty colossal too, containing a whopping 79 minutes of music, and it’s every bit as good as you think it is for the most part.
Ετερόφωτος is atmospheric black metal, with elements of the ambient and progressive styles tastefully sprinkled on top. This simple description doesn’t do this album justice though; Spectral Lore is a band with few peers, and the artist behind this project is enormously talented.
There’s a lot going on here; raw aggression, twisting riffs, blackened intensity, ethereal beauty, epic splendour, introspective wandering, progressive psychedelic workouts, and much more besides. The music is enhanced by a multitude of different sounds in places, adding further depth to the compositions, (some examples include the use of synths and electronics). There are some blistering leads and solos to be found across the album too.
The songs are rich in creative ideas and each track offers an entire world ripe for exploration. Detailed and nuanced, each of these songs is highly impressive and more capably realised and performed than whole albums by many ostensibly similar bands. The depth of songwriting and musical ability on display is quite staggering. The album is a masterclass in intricate extreme metal, and everything from technical complexity to direct simplicity is covered in one way or another. The songs are captivating, regardless of what they are doing at any given time. The only exception to this is the final 19-minute track Terean, which is essentially an ambient drone piece that does very little for me.
Ετερόφωτος is a layered, involved release that requires multiple spins for the listener to really start to take in. There’s more than enough quality material here to enthral on the first listen, but the real rewards come over time.
With that one exception, as mentioned above, Ετερόφωτος is a first-rate atypical black metal album. I expected this to be good, but it’s so much more than that. The imaginative craftsmanship that has gone into this is exemplary, and Ετερόφωτος is a stunning record.