Metal Review – Bowl Ethereal: Bowl Ethereal

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Metal Review – Bowl Ethereal: Bowl Ethereal
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Bowl Ethereale: Bowl Ethereal
Hardcore, Mathcore
Southern Lord Records
July 22nd, 2014
Release length: 6:06
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Back in 2013, Virginia’s Brian Metz of Honor Role and Pen Rollings of Amish Control Tower) came together to form the entity known as Bowl Ethereal. The Virginian Mathcore and Hardcore group released their initial demo EP titled Five Minutes, a collection of five songs at one minute each that literally lasted the length of its name, and made it available to download for free upon visiting their official website. It was enough to attract the attention of Southern Lord Records however, who this year will be releasing their official self-titled debut EP (or single as it also has been referred to). But is this a better release than Five Minutes, or is there enough here to justify throwing some cash down for a physical or digital copy?

First of all, Bowl Ethereal actually consists of the entire Five Minutes recording re-mastered by Brad Boatright and it ends up a double edged sword. The initially bland guitars come through somewhat deeper with a much more prevalent twang to the bass guitar. This makes the material rather blunt, which somehow makes the music seem to move slower. While that was one of the downfalls to the previous release, this tightens everything up to where Bowl Ethereal doesn’t sound like amateurs or appear to be out of sync with each other, not to mention makes the already well paced music flow even smoother than before. However that Progressive Metal sounding solo during “God’s Damned” no longer sticks out and just sounds like everything else on top of the sharpened leads that kick off “Twenty Three Exciter Dreams” being a lot tamer, blending in with the rest of the fluid, yet sterilized material present.

The biggest sacrifice is that an extra second seems to be tacked on to the end of every song, though it ends up to be two seconds of silence at the end most of the time. On Five Minutes the first few songs were intertwined due to how quickly they cut, which was fine and dandy enough to make the original title work in concept, but at least here that brief period of dead air helps to make each song sound unique and not like this group’s version of I by Meshuggah. Sadly this doesn’t mean the abrupt ends are completely removed though. “God’s Damned” and “Cryonic Slumber” are just two that still sound like the song stops early, benefiting only in that they don’t crash into the next track. “The Sixth Sickener” even abruptly ends after yet another extensive sounding breakdown that makes up much of the performance, leaving you wanting to hear the rest of the song that probably doesn’t actually exist.

In the end, Five Minutes sounded like an absolute trainwreck that better acted as a collection of samples of five songs off an upcoming full-length, while Bowl Ethereal still leaves you hanging onto the hope that there’s more to the songs that we might one day finally get to hear but does it a little better. The music is much tighter all around, the songs move a lot more fluidly, and the instruments manage to stand out in a way that makes them work together instead of against one another. In the end, this is still Five Minutes, just a little more polished to make it pleasing to the palette with a bonus track tacked on like the mint you would get on your pillow at a hotel after room service cleaned. There’s still nothing memorable about it other than the fact that the songs really do move along like water with few rocks in the path to break the stream. Given (at the time of writing this article) you can still download Five Minutes from the band’s website, you should grab it and compare it to this version, which is currently streaming on the band’s Bandcamp page, and see if you want to shell out cash for a vinyl, stick with the initial offering you just got at no cost, or if you just want to delete both from your life.

01. Twenty Three Exciter Dreams – 1:01
02. Initial Nutrient Recepticle – 1:01
03. God’s Damned – 1:01
04. Cryonic Slumber – 1:01
05. The Last Minute – 1:01
06. The Sixth Sickener – 1:01
Initial Pressing Score: 4.5/10

Bowl Ethereale
Bowl Ethereale

Digital review copy of this release provided by Southern Lords Records via Earsplit PR.