Estertor - Between Silence and Light
Moonlapse Productions
Progressive Melodic Death/Doom Metal
13 songs (71:25)
Release year: 2003
Reviewed by Crims
Album of the month

Every once in awhile you hear something from a band that you’ve never heard of, in fact, most people probably haven’t heard of and said band completely blows you away. I suppose it’s one of the great things about Metal: there are always lesser known bands out there making great music, but it’s also a crime that bands this good aren’t on a major label or playing head lining concerts all over Europe. Well, Estertor are one such band, and their latest release, Between Silence and Light ranks as not only my biggest surprise of the year, but also one of my favorite CD’s this year period.

Estertor are from Bolivia, which is probably why they aren’t as well known as they should be and the style of Metal they play can best be described as Progressive Melodic Death with touches of Doom. The band consists of Marcelo (Vocals, Guitars), Rommel (Bass), Arturo (Guitars), and Franky (Drums, Vocals). The CD length comes in at a whopping 71 plus minutes of music. That’s about 2 full lengths of what most bands are putting out these days and rest assured a band better be very good songwriters to fill the 71 minutes with interesting music and compositions and Estertor deliver in a big way. Aside from having some rather long songs the progressive elements of Estertor come in the form of many change ups with atmospheric breaks, extended lead build ups, and a whole lot of diversity. The band seems to have taken influence from a couple of schools of Melodic Death; initially the most prominent influence being a very strong liking to early Dark Tranquility and In Flames style of tempo and leads. So a lot of the riffs and leads are very dark, though melodic and catchy, but every once in awhile Estertor will use a lead that is highly influenced by Iron Maiden or any number of Power Metal bands, which gives this release a welcome contrast since the CD has a strong feeling of despair and doom that prevails throughout most tracks. Moreover, the ever-present feeling of despair is helped by riffs and leads similar to Icon era Paradise Lost. So you can imagine that the variation on this CD is not only one of its highlights but also a great contributor to making the listening experience non-repetitive and interesting. The tempos vary often and the band is not afraid to let lose and use very fast double bass with choppy riffs and leads underneath, very similar to Skydancer era Dark Tranquility, but since I mentioned touches of Doom, you can use your imagination and figure out that Estertor is not afraid to slow things done and give us sludgy riffs and non-distorted electric guitar. This aspect of the band was very appealing to me because it’s when they get the most experimental with the employment of many different vocal styles (more on that later) and different methods of creating atmosphere and build up.

To go along with the various riffs and leads are some excellent bass lines, some of which are straight out of the Iron Maiden bass playing book, which essentially means they’re going to be harmonized with the galloping leads on a regular basis. Meanwhile the drumming is as dynamic as the songwriting. The vocals are yet another note-worthy aspect of the release. Both Marcelo and Franky handle vocal duties, which is not surprising given the various styles used. Obviously, the most common style is of the harsh variety, though it tends to be a little deeper than the typical mid-range growls of Melodic Death Metal, but they have the same kind of intelligence of Mikael Stanne’s delivery and thus it never delves into the obscure area of erratic grunting. During many of the atmospheric sections of the songs there appears clean vocals and I can honestly say I’ve never heard anything quite like them. I can’t even really give a reference point either, as they are sung in a very weird key with a unique harmonization that may not be technically proficient, but is nevertheless very effective at adding character to the songs. Another style we hear is a deep Doom half-growl that Paradise Lost used to great effect on Icon. Though it’s not used that often, it is actually one of my favorite on the CD and fits right at home with the Doom aspects of the band. My only complaint about the vocals (mostly with the clean sections) is that they are mixed a little too low and sometimes get drowned out by the guitars and loud bass. The lyrics are unfortunately done in broken English with odd grammar and word choices, but the band gets their point across most of the time; the topics are mostly connected with desolation and dark psychological outlooks and follow a vague story that is actually quite complex and deep if you go to their webpage and read the backgrounds on each song.

Considering the band isn’t on a major label the flaws in the production can be by and large forgiven. Actually, in a way I did like the production a lot since it reminded me a lot of the mid 90’s era of Skydancer and Lunar Strain, as the overall sound isn’t as crisp as we might expect from a CD released in 2003, however, the production style does fit the character and style of the band and we have to remember not everyone can get produced at Finnvox or the Abyss studio. I would like to hear, in future releases, the guitars to be a little louder with more of a kick but it’s only a minor gripe.

I will warn some of you with the fact that while Estertor do get very fast at times, there are a lot of mid-paced and slow sections to various songs, which may not appeal to everyone. They appealed to me because the leads were excellent, the drumming remained dynamic, and the atmosphere was both mesmerizing and appropriately dark, but your opinion may differ. The CD length may also turn off some listeners as not everyone, especially those of you with attention deficit disorder, can sit through 71 minutes of music. I actually tend to lose interest with CD's this long unless the song writing is varied and constantly interesting; Pagan’s Mind’s latest is a great example of a long CD done well, and Estertor have followed the same principles of writing challenging music that while inherently progressive, remains catchy and memorable after the first listen without the usually ill-fated wankery. I thus highly recommend this release to Melodic Death/Doom fans not afraid of these styles being played with a progressive touch as I personally feel that Between Silence and Light will receive an almost guaranteed spot on my top 10 CD list this year.

Killing Songs :
Everything is captivating, but I liked Ride Into The Unknown, Shadows, Eternal Fall, Drunk Song (Neitzche), Hunting Lost Dreams, and Spelt Shining Drew the best
Crims quoted 92 / 100
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