With their latest release, Arete, Sweden’s Netherbird dives deep into human psychology and thought process, provoking a reflection into what motivates us as humans and at what lengths and sacrifices that we will endure in order to accomplish these feats. This incarnation of reality is set through an ominous back drop of atmosphere created through melodic harmony that is thrust into orbit through a very well balanced mix of death metal and black metal. There are sonically emotional peaks and valleys throughout Arete just as one would want when listening to top notch melodic black metal. Arete can take the listener from a feeling of hope to a feeling of despair within the blink of an eye, therefore, it is rather engaging and does not become monotonous.
Arete features the excellent drumming of Fredrik Andersson best known for his work in fellow Swedish death metal titans (or Vikings if you prefer) Amon Amarth. As a drummer, I must say that it is fascinating hearing Mr. Andersson in this capacity. Fredrik has always played right in queue with what the music calls for in my opinion and on Arete that is evident however it is fantastic to hear him complimenting these rather dark compositions with well-placed blast beats and higher tempo double bass. His work on Arete is very professionally done and it goes a long way to compliment the music.
Arete starts out with a beautiful, dark interlude that feels as ominous as it does mystical. It’s as if one was peering into a dark forest witnessing something that they are unsure that they should be seeing. This interlude sets up the first true song of the album titled, Towers of the Night. Towers of the night is a track that kicks the album off on a dark, yet protagonistic note with solid tremolo picking, dark melodic picked chords that leads into a more antagonistic approach. This back and forth seems to be a common theme throughout the album which is really a nice approach once the listener catches onto it.
What I personally really love about Arete, is that it seems to combine various elements of some of my favorite Scandinavian and Nordic bands. One could say that they hear the darkness of Watain, the aggression of Naglfar, the melancholic atmosphere of Audn and even other elements Dark Tranquility and Kampfar. For me personally, this is a nice mix of many of the qualities that I love in melodic blackened death metal.
My favorite track on this album would definitely be Mystes. This track has so much substance. The guitar riffs are what really set this song up with beautiful tremolo picking of melodic verses that wrap nicely around the song structure in order create an atmosphere of despair colliding with nature. The song starts off rather slow and somber, then after a brief guitar interlude it blasts into one of my favorite riffs and feelings of the whole album; very climactic. Soon after it follows up with another great melodic tremolo riff. Simply put, I could listen to this song on repeat, and I did.
Flying under the radar for me for years, Netherbird was an excellent find and am truly glad that Arete was my introduction to them. This album was everything that I desire from a melodic band: Dark, diverse enough, tells a story, has aggression, great atmosphere that builds towards well thought out climaxes and excellent guitar riffs.
Reviewed By: Ian
Release Date: July 30th, 2021
1. Âme Damnée
2. Towers Of The Night
3. Void Dancer
4. Infernal Vistas
5. Carnal Pentiment
7. The Silence Of Provenance
8. Atrium Of The Storm
Johan “Nephente” Fridell – Vocals
Pontus “Bizmark” Andersson – Lead Guitars
Tobias “Tinitus” Jakobsson – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Micke “M.A.” André – Bass
Fredrik Andersson – Drums