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3.68 | 4 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1998


1. THE ORGANIUM (6:41)
2. The March and the Stream (10:34)
3. The Falls (8:43)
4. Forge (5:49)
5. -Edges- (6:10)
6. Aether (9:49)

Total Time: 47:49


- Matti / vocals
- Jani Kekarainen / guitars
- Eero Pöyry / keyboards
- Lasse Pelkonen / drums

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Skepticism's debut was such a strong funeral doom album that they could have persisted in a purist funeral doom style forever, which is why I kind of respect them for getting a bit experimental with their influences on Lead & Aether, even if I find the results a bit middling. With shorter compositions in general (by funeral doom standards), the band take the time to work in a range of additional styles (including a bit of world music) to add additional accents to their funeral doom foundation. However, the album seems to lose my interest a little more easily than the debut does, and in particular the mixing of the vocals makes them feel weak and overwhelmed and not in a good way.
'Stormcrowfleet' was more than enough to establish Skepticism's place in the then new funeral doom pantheon. With the great music on that album, one must wonder what would happen in a follow up? Well, approximately three years after 'Stormcrowfleet', 'Lead and Aether' arrived to answer the question. Before even listening, it is worth pointing out the overall length of this album is shorter than its predecessor which might make it yet another good starting point for those new to funeral doom. Let's go!

"The Organium" starts off with pipe organs that continue when the funeral doom music starts. The keyboard production has notably improved since the last album, making them more present than ever before. With a shorter song like this that falls just short of seven minutes, it is good to see some variation here. The first big one starts at 1:18, with the guitars moving to a more prominent position and the drums going into a tribal like rhythm. The keys are still there providing the atmosphere effect. Another variation occurs around the three minute mark slowing the pace back to the original one. The pipe organ effects make you feel like you're sitting in church. But it's not you're normal church where preaching of love and peace occur. You are in the church of hell. The preaching is of despair. Oh, and you're alone; but in these funeral doom metal visualizations, you're always supposed to be alone.

"The March and the Stream" comes next. Ten plus minutes. Now we're getting to some true funeral doom taste. We begin this procession with ambient keyboards and tribal drumming with light sounding guitar eventually coming into the mix. When the vocals and the heavy guitars come in, the drumming stays the same; but the keyboards start layer the ambient and pipe organ sounds together to generate the atmosphere. The single guitar gets a little more ambitious in this song playing a slow melodic lead at one point to break away from the plodding riffing. The biggest variation here occurs at the 6:17 with the guitar tone drastically changing and at a faster pace. It keeps that tone when the vocals return again at 7:05. Plus, the keyboards get strong again at that point to make the song extra melancholic sounding. Mixtures like this make this song an interesting counterpart to the more frightful "The Organium".

Then, we have "The Falls". It begins with a mournful atmosphere portrayed through the keyboards and guitar. Indeed, I imagine being cleansed in a waterfall in the middle of a forest when I listen to this first part. It leaves us at 2:13 to be replaced with a more astral mood as the riffs and key. There's even spacey keyboards to go along with it. Then it changes again at 4:21 with acoustic sounding guitar plucking notes. This goes on for over a minute in a sorrowful passage. Funeral doom does come back to continue, climax, and end the song.

Who makes a funeral doom song shorter than six minutes? Well I guess Skepticism does because that's just as long as "Forge" is. The key is different here than the few songs before it. This song seems to be more uplifting too as if to make you arise from the lamenting depths portrayed before. The keyboards and other instruments, played in the key that they are played, makes me visualize a castle in the sky. The key returns to the way it was at the beginning of the song to climax and end this song. The keyboards really get strong here and get very powerful on the final note.

Moving on, there is "Edges". It sinks the mood back to the gloom established earlier in this album. The regal keyboards at 1:01 are quite epic, then shift over to more spacey sounding effects almost a minute later while keeping the pace and tone of the rest of the music. As we reach the climax, the pace increases and the bass plays some more notable notes.

"Aether" ends it all. It starts out with funeral doom right from the get go. The keyboards are spacey and astral sounding again. At one point in the music, the keyboards get really extravagant and even resemble violins. On the contrast, there are parts where the keys are toned down to let the guitar take the lead. Not unlike the rest of the songs, the music gets more powerful towards the end to reach a climax. The guitar blurs into a continual stream of constant noise that ends abruptly with the song...

But like "The Everdarkgreen" on 'Stormcrowfleet', there's a false ending. After several seconds, the music begins again with all the instruments playing and the guitar and keyboards playing at an intense pitch and different key than the rest of the song only to fade out to close the album officially.

Actually, this album is superior to 'Stormcrowfleet' in my eyes. The songs are more varied and interesting, the production is slightly better to make the atmosphere seemingly heavier, and the keyboards are used in a somewhat superior way to project this lonely, solemn atmosphere. That's two for two for Skepticism!

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