There’s a long, grand tradition of breakup/divorce records in music, though I can’t think of many examples in metal aside from Deicide’s Till Death Do Us Part, which actually might not be the best example. Regardless, some of my all time favorite albums like Superchunk’s Here’s Where the Strings Come In and Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear have been inspired by relationships falling apart.
Florida sludge outfit Ether’s forthcoming sophomore effort There is Nothing Left for Me Here was inspired in part by the divorce one of their members was going through during the writing process, but it has a broader scope that most breakup records in that it touches on a fair number of sociopolitical topics as well. The album’s overarching theme of abandonment, though, clearly speaks to the inexorable link between the personal and the political. It’s an inevitable fact of life that all relationships decay, whether they’re interpersonal ones or the relationship between a country and its history or a people and their economic or political system. Ether’s explorations of those processes of decay have yielded an album that’s heavy in just about every sense of the word.
Part of what makes There is Nothing Left for Me Here so successful has to do with the band’s unconventional approach to making music. There are plenty of crushing riffs on the album, but there’s also a fair amount of nuance in the arrangements – there’s much more than just rage happening here. For example, violin prominently features of several of the album’s tracks, most notably on “For Every Nail, a Noose,” and it adds an entirely different emotional dimension to the track. The rueful “Inextricably Bound by the Absence of a Ring Finger” is dominated by acoustic guitar and banjo. Standout track “Ava Maria of the Lice, of the Snakes, of the Worms” pushes into atmospheric territory with its more open arrangement and melodic underpinnings.
As strong as much of the album may be, though, it isn’t without its flaws. For starters, it’s a bit on the long side. The biggest offender in that respect is the 11+ minute “Coke Rope,” which meanders a bit, particularly during the extended sample in the middle, and could have benefitted from a tighter arrangement. The clean vocals don’t always hit the mark, either, and occasionally make me wonder if he’s trying to sing below his natural register.
On the whole, though, There is Nothing Left for Me Here does a good job of bringing both the heavy and the feels. If you’re a sludge fan or like your metal with a little more depth than the average, Ether will probably be right up your alley.