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  • Reviewed by Faye Coulman

REVIEWED: Gaerea - 'Mirage'

With its endless procession of traumatic memories, anxious ruminations, regrets and other numerous, assorted neuroses, there are few darker, more thoroughly disquieting territories than those of the tormented human brain. But in the act of translating this maddening internal noise into the stuff of delectably dark and visionary art, those gifted artists among us have the capacity to communicate something quite remarkable. Something that resonates deep within the very fibre of our being, setting souls and synapses alight. Something that, as Anaal Nathrakh frontman Dave Hunt once astutely noted, “just recognises the chaos inside your head.” And that is precisely what blackened extreme metal talents Gaerea accomplish here in ferocious and soul-baring abundance.

From brutally energised feats of aggression and vocal cord-liquefying screams to expansive slabs of darkly contorted fretwork, third long-player ‘Mirage’ is a unique and beautifully orchestrated beast. With its meticulous standards of production capturing jugular-ripping viscerality and absorbing atmosphere in equal, flawlessly balanced measure, it’s with painstaking attention to detail that these talented composers go about crafting this explosive yet seamlessly cohesive slab.

Like a vast, fathomless ocean whose gleaming, crystalline surface conceals the deadliest of lethal undercurrents, ‘Memoir’ makes for an instantly bewitching opener, its gossamer-fine chord progressions glimmering with ethereal beauty. Elsewhere, monumental expanses of snaking, densely muscled fretwork abound with stately grandeur in amongst synapse-scorching bursts of percussive ultra-violence, luring the listener ever deeper into a coldly entrancing odyssey of unspeakable horror.

From here, the stupefyingly ferocious ‘Salve’ hurls us headlong into a frenzy of blastbeat-stricken brutality, its ornate flurries of lightning-paced arpeggios flooding the senses with adrenaline. In amongst its numerous explosive episodes of raggedly abrasive riffage and hammering blasts, ‘Mantle’ is awash with sumptuously layered melody, while ‘Arson’s’ elegantly orchestrated strings take ample time to weave their melancholic magic. Melding these sumptuous melodic trappings together with sizeable slabs of bass-laden groove and intensely visceral textures that palpably drip desolation, ‘Mirage’ is a wondrously compelling contradiction of an album: at once visceral yet sonically layered; energised yet audibly laden with anguish; nightmarish, and yet utterly magnetic.


'Mirage' is out 23rd September via Season of Mist


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