Since I first came across Acerus a few years ago, it’s always baffled me that they aren’t better known. Formed as a side-project of various members of The Chasm and some related bands (though it became a solo project for guitarist Daniel Corchado on the second album), Acerus play epic barbarian heavy metal in the absolute best of ways. All of The Chasm’s death metal has been stripped away, leaving behind only the gorgeous heavy metal influences that make them so wonderful, Corchado’s layered approach to songwriting, and a driving, captivating aggression. The Unreachable Salvation is the result of death metal maniacs finally making the traditional music that’s always inspired them, and it’s one of the most spectacular achievements of the type that I’ve heard.
The songwriting has plenty of sections that are focused on gallops or strong power chords, but the highlight and the real approach to the music is the incredible lead work and inventive progressions. A heavy use of polyphony, two or more simultaneous lines of independent melody, leaves a tremendous amount to be found on each listen through of the album. Long instrumental sections show a confidence that comes from the long years of experience each member has with writing music. It’s rare for heavy metal bands to let vocalists stand by for long parts of each song (at least outside of a solo!), and rarer for it to be well done enough to not long for singing, but Acerus easily managed it with grace.
Despite the many instrumental sections, the vocals are far from being a sideshow; rough, passionate, and perfectly fitting the music, singer Roberto Valle does such a good job crafting memorable and inspiring vocal lines that it’s shocking to find that The Unreachable Salvation is the only vocal credit he has to his name. His range isn’t huge, but he pushes at the upper and lower limits with a commendable amount of effort and any shortcomings in skill are made up for by his emotional delivery.
Though the drumming doesn’t match the same heights as the guitars or vocals, Geoff Montgomery has a great ear for complimenting the rest of the band, and given how busy the music is between the guitars and vocals already, that’s probably for the best. Solid drumming grounds the music in a way that a frenzied assault would not have, and keeps Acerus’s mood exactly where the band wants it to be even as the guitar work doesn’t always precisely match it. The production on the drums, as with the rest of the music, is also stellar; the drums are punchy and powerful, but not overpowering, and are perfectly audible at all times, as are the guitars. In fact, the only instrument that doesn’t particularly stand out is the bass, which makes some sense given that it was handled by both of the guitarists rather than having a standalone bassist writing it.
The Unreachable Salvation is truly one of my favorite recent albums, and I’m glad that the band is getting another chance at attention now that they’re touring and playing shows for the first time ever. If you still need to be sold on checking it out even after the rest of the review, a buddy of mine describes it as “The Chasm covering Deceased”, and if that’s not enough, then what is?
Favorite Track: “The Order Shall Be Reestablished”
Album rating: 94/100