Top 5: Ered Wethrin

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Tides of War
Northern Silence
Street: 02.05
Ered Wethrin = Caladan Brood + Lord Agheros + Dol Goldur–era Summoning

Just like the epic themes of fantasy and esoteric mysticism that inspired Ered Wethrin’s lyrics, Tides of War takes its time unfolding a vast and enchanting audial world. From the Glen Cook–inspired “Bloody Annals and Brooding Skies” to the Steven Erikson tribute in “Requiem for the Fallen,” Sven Smith’s solo recordings recall the stoic and battle-hardened tales of lesser-known fantasy realms. He began recording material for Ered Wethrin many years before compiling his ideas into his debut album, and his musical journey is strongly evidenced by the progression of these seven songs. “Frozen Rivers” begins the album with something that feels like a taste of Smith’s earliest material. Yet, as Tides of War continues, this Salt Lake City native finds his stride, crafting music that gradually grows more rich and complex. While the rough mastering and occasional mistakes make it clear that this is Smith’s first solo album, he shows a great talent for weaving dense atmospheres with a unique palette of synths and solid tremolo riffs. The moods change subtly from song to song, giving the album a sense of exploration and experimentation. “Into the Stars” delves into somber reflection, followed by “Realm of the Tyrant” and its immediate, exotic melodies. Some of the tracks run long, even by epic atmospheric black metal standards, but they build toward exquisite and triumphant climaxes that reward patient listeners for giving the music time to develop. Ultimately, Tides of War serves as a great example of how Salt Lake City’s heavy metal scene has grown prodigiously over the last decade. Smith is certainly a musician to watch in the coming years, and his debut as Ered Wethrin already shows incredible promise. –Henry Glasheen

This is an Extended Review from SLUG Magazine’s Top Five Albums of 2014.