Album Review: Erimha - Reign Through Immortality
At some point, we lost our collective minds. Obsessed with classifying everything, the amateur Linnaeus in us all has created a staggering matrix of labels we apply to the metal we listen to, to the point where describing a song can sometimes take longer than the actual track (and I wish I were making that up). By splitting the music into ever smaller pieces of understanding, we are able to better predict the likelihood of enjoying something before ever hearing a note, but we also reduce our exposure to new things, because we know exactly what we're getting.
Such is the case with Erimha, where the self-described 'blackened death metal', combined with a 'mathematical' lead guitarist, was more than enough warning to make me nervous about wading into these waters. I approach anything with a hint of black metal with caution, and Erimha is one of those bands I would have never voluntarily listened to if not for being a critic.
The most interesting aspect of the band is not the mix of black and death metal, nor the 'mathematical' guitar playing (which I'm not sure I understand what that even means), but is instead the hints of theatrical orchestration that sits in the background. The opening “Ascetic” is a standard-fare black/death track that doesn't have much going for it, except for the string arrangement that gets buried under the fury. It shows not only a different side to the music, but a more accomplished sense of musicality.
In this sense, Erimha is not unlike orchestrated metal masters Hollenthon, except they lack the confidence to put those aspects of their songwriting front and center. By relegated those bits to the background, “Reign Through Immortality” is left to survive as either a black or death metal album, neither of which it's equipped to do successfully. Death metal is not known for producing a multitude of great songs, as we commonly know them, and black metal's track record is even worse. So mixing the two sounds together is a bit like combining accelerants to see if you can burn the house down even faster.
The only thing Erimha has going for it is the orchestration, which is musically interesting, and the only part of the entire album that has an identity. Without a gimmick, or a big name in the ranks, all these death metal bands are replaceable. They all use the same sounds, the same growls, and the same types of riffs, which neuters the impact their records can have. I don't know if Erimha would be better received if there was no one else who sounded like them, but I do know that since they are but one of many who trade in the same aesthetic, they need something special to make anything about them stand out.
Unfortunately, the band isn't able to do that. Instead, they spend the entire record playing boiler-plate extreme metal with small hints of something interesting going on in the background, which only makes me grow more and more frustrated that they focus on the least worthy parts of their songs. I can go anywhere and hear black metal, or death metal, and hear it done better. Erimha has nothing of their own to offer.
Maybe I'm being a bit harsh on this album, but I'm failing to find anything to change my mind. It's not original enough to create its own lineage on our metal genealogy, nor is it good enough to stand out within its current box. It is, and that's about all that's noteworthy about it.