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Ethereal Riffian – Shamans Visions

The stoner-doom scene in the Ukraine and Russia was once the home for goth-doom bands but over the last couple of years, these countries have woken up to the joys of traditional and stoner-doom metal. What kills me is these new bands emerging from there playing this style are among the very best in the world. Without God, Stoned Jesus, Lord Of Doubts and The Moon Mistress are the bands leading the charge but that is only the beginning, there is many more bands about to be unleashed. It is so great and exciting to see this new scene emerging. Another new band is Ethereal Riffian and this album titled ‘Shaman’s Visions’ is an album that simply had to be made and they have done it. Much like when Sleep released the ‘Jerusalem’ album, this album comes along as a breath of exciting smoke-filled air. While the style has been done many times before, there is something fresh about this that makes this one of the most interesting releases of 2011 and they are giving it away for free if you can live with just a download, check the links at the end of this review for details. After the jump read the rest of this smokey review.

This Kiev based band has put together an amazing CD package so I don’t see how anyone would be happy with just a download of this album. The artwork and packaging is stunning, if only every band would put this much work into how their albums are presented, maybe people wouldn’t be so obsessed with just stealing a download. This is the most gorgeous package I have seen all year with only the limited-edition Orchid coming anywhere close to being this spectacular. But if the packaging sends your mind into orgasmic overload, wait till you hear the music. Ethereal Riffian play a mesmerizing, hypnotic brand of stoner-doom that is mystical, spiritual and infectious. They are not as ‘heavy’ as you might expect, this is more your meditative kind of stoner-doom, something to let your brain float away with and take you on a little voyage into the cosmos. They are part Sleep, Kyuss, Ufomammut, with a healthy dose of Hawkwind on the side but it is bundled up with something that sounds truly fresh. The album is split into five parts and I guess it could be called a ‘concept’ kind of album with each part having its own unique vibe.

The short, mostly instrumental ‘Part I Whispering of the Ancients (The Awakening)’ begins the album and you are immediately thrown into what sounds like a kind of ancient ritual ceremony. The smoke-filled atmosphere, heavy riffing and primitive, hypnotic drumming and the LSD tinged melodies are truly mesmerizing and that doesn’t really change throughout the next thirty minutes. While ‘Shaman’s Visions’ is made up of five unique parts, they bleed into each other giving the impression this is long epic track and it is easy to lose track of where you are in the album’s running order. The album is so mesmerizing that it usually ends without realizing the five parts have all be done with and then you have no choice but to play it again and again. There is many variations and changes that are sometimes obvious but usually very subtle, ‘Part II Beyond (The Search)’ is one of the sections that is a highlight along with the closing piece ‘Part V Light of Self (The Truth)’ but the album as a whole is really a highlight. It is almost impossible to single out one part as a favorite track, the entire album from start to finish is totally engaging.

Like I already mentioned, the band is more about psychedelic stoner-doom that is hypnotic and melodic than just being heavy for the sake of it. There is truly great riffing on the album but it is the atmosphere on the recording that ultimately wins you over. This is one of the most tripped-out albums released in recent years and you will feel like you are on a psychoactive drug while listening to ‘Shaman’s Visions’ as the music really does alter your cognition and perception of everything around you. It is so easy to lose yourself in tracks like ‘Part III Yax Imix Che (The Path)’ for example. This is the début album of the year so far in my opinion, essential listening. Download it for free but I am sure you will want the CD after you soaked up the psychedelic, mesmerizing sounds of Ethereal Riffian. …..9.5/10

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