The In Delirium album from Devon trio Ethyrfield (collective age 55…scary!) is a confident and assured debut.
Release date: 16th June 2021
Label: self released
Format: CD / DL / vinyl
After sampling their 2018 set at Bloodstock – a suitably heavy snapshot – it’s interesting to see how Ethyrfield have evolved. The experience of putting out two EPs, Zach Cornish (bass, vocals and great long hair), Ben Cornish (guitar, vocals and the sort of great long hair that seems to run in the family) and Dan Aston (drums, stylish short trim and looking like he’s bunking off from his Key Stage 2 SATs) have delivered a mature and impressive piece of work.
The heaviness remains but the sound, the arrangements and the songwriting is significantly refined. The influences, of course, are all there. The light and the shade; loud and quiet, the acoustic and the electric; the melodies, the instrumental passages and the ambitious and tricky time signature shifts. Yes, you might encounter lightbulb moments when you think you can spot the impact and results of listening to Dream Theater, Rush, Muse, Opeth, Jethro Tull or Porcupine Tree but the trio fuse and blend their influences with their own distinct trademarks.
They’re bold enough with the track sequencing too, in avoiding one of the more obvious numbers that might make an immediate impact. While River may raise the curtain in an understated way, almost like a folk song, all acoustic guitars, lush textures and tight harmonies, it feels very much an aperitif. The calm before the storm; the ‘acoustic set’ intro with Dan patiently working out a low-key part in the wings with some skittering percussion. However, there’s nothing low-key about Sunstroke with its warning wails and stomping riff. Yes, it could well be Amplifier and Sel Balamir making some of those unstoppably towering, rolling forward riffs. Not for the first time either. The same power emerges as a parting shot in Bitter Wishbone.
Lyrically, there’s more than a hint of darkness and isolation. Themes that surface throughout the album, initially in significant spurts until you get to delve deeply into the lyrics. It comes across all Bon Jovi western in the easy ballad Overgrown that builds up before swerving off into a searing guitar break. However, it’s when the trio head into a heavier direction that they come into their own. The one-two sucker punches of The Hunter and Delirium are simply terrific Rock (or possibly Rawk!) tracks. The swinging riff-fest of the former and its sneering and triumphant “for you / I will” lines are tremendously hectic. In terms of dirty rock and roll, Guns ‘n’ Roses couldn’t do it any better. For a debut album, a real confident swagger emerges, and in Delirium some keyboard rushes add texture to the romp of the riff.
Serenity is the key contender for showcasing the light and shade. The edgier and frenetic side coming through with a machine gun intensity being shelved for a brief interlude of atmospheric doodling before that marching passion returns. Similar sketch with Remembering where the range and drama are intensified. Another acoustic beginning gives way to giant walls of sound that it’s hard to imagine coming from three players and also a reminder that the tag of ‘progressive’ has probably been buried beneath an avalanche of power. The sudden acceleration and searing solo goes some way to filling a Porcupine Tree shaped hole. So much more than the sum of the parts.
Favourite tracks? The three track combo of The Hunter, Delirium and Laying On Of Hands (the opening straight from an Opeth horror soundtrack) is most exciting and for me, the backbone of the album.
Here’s the first single from the album, Remembering: