Thursday, 7 June 2012

Aethellis - Northumbria (2011)

I had high hopes some months ago after listening to and reviewing the 2003 self titled debut album. So I purchased this album, the follow up.

Eight years is a long time and those eight years has changed Aethellis into a band. It is still being lead by Ellsworth Hall though. The man who did everything on the debut album. The music has also changed from airy rock in the vein of Marillion to somewhat altogether different. Aethellis has morphed into a sophisticated funky pop/rock band with funky electric guitars and long keyboards runs. The sound is the typical awful flat 1990s/late 1980s sound.

The Genesis influences is very strong on this album. I am not referring to the Peter Gabriel fronted Genesis. I am referring to the Phil Collins lead Genesis where the prog rock has been ditched and the slick Motown soul/pop has been introduced. It sounds like Aethellis has even copied a couple of Genesis riffs from that era (which surely is by pure accident). And I despise that Genesis era and type of music.

The result is an album which is going nowhere fast. The material is dull, lifeless and generic. The Genesis similarities too obvious for my liking. The sound is flat and too much like the 1980s/90s. The vocals is a painful listen. The long keyboards runs are dull. There is no sparks of creativity here at all. In short; Aethellis has flopped big time with this album. Shame really, because I really like the area of England called Northumbria and I also liked the first Aethellis album. But this is not my cup of tea. Sorry.

1 point


  1. Boulevard Denim13 June 2012 at 23:44

    I too purchased the first Aethellis album and was more impressed with Northumbria as a follow up.

    To be fair, there were funky guitars all over the first album ("Hubris" and "Djibouti" come to mind) and long keyboard solos. Heck, UK's "Carrying No Cross" has a really long keyboard solo. I feel that the solo on the title track measures up very well and is quite Jobsonish/Emersonish in style and compositionally interesting with polytriads and dissonances. Quite PROG.

    Also to be fair, Genesis still was still doing quite progressive things after Gabriel left. And even Mr. Gabriel went all soul/pop with the So album. So let's get real.

    Sure there are some pop influences on Northumbria. They were on the first album too. There are some jazz and electronica influences ("Exchequer Prague") and fusion ("Sounds Good"). So what? Prog shouldn't be static and narrowly defined. It should be allowed to encompass other genres. And Aethellis does just that and even when it does, it still maintains compositional sophistication.

    Accusing the band of outright theft of Genesis material is a bit over the top. I hear the influences; perhaps even a quote but no outright stealing of entire songs. I hear other influences more; UK, ELP, Camel, Thomas Dolby.

    I also think the album sounds even better recorded than the first and is indeed quite a creative endeavor.

    And Mr. Hall still has done the bulk of the performing/recording as per his interview on Prog Archives.

  2. Boulevard Denim16 June 2012 at 20:07

    Interesting that after a little research (as a musicologist and film critic research is what I do!) what I thought may have been a quote from a Genesis song was actually more a reference to a melody in a Clementi sonatina. Not a direct quote, but it reminded me of it.

    Nowhere near a direct quote as "Groovy Kind of Love" was of Clementi's Sonata No. 5 Rondo. Ooops but now I'm moving into Phil Collins pop territory! But to be fair everyone has their preferences regarding varying styles of music. I appreciate that you are up front with yours.