GAEREA is a black metal five-piece band from Portugal founded in 2016. The upcoming full length, ”Limbo,” is going to be published on 24 July 2020 via French record label Season of Mist.
The band was supposed to play in Helsinki in May this year, but of course the gig has been postponed to March 2021 due to the pandemic. I can’t help wondering if having the chance to see the band at a live show would affect my opinion and general feeling about the new album since, as far as I know, it seems that GAEREA has a majestic live impact.
Starting from the name, which is a word created by the band itself and stands for ”an inner feeling of rage,” and the particular aesthetic feature of wearing full-face hoods with a specific sigil, GAEREA proves to be quite an eccentric creature in the so-called ”new wave of black metal” subgenre. ”Limbo,” named after the edge of hell in the Catholic theology, shows a more mature and structured approach, especially compared to the band’s previous works such as the self-titled EP and the full-length ”Unsettling Whispers.”
The first track, ”To Ain,” is an eleven minute long journey through negative yet cathartic emotions, layered and juxtaposed with a rather fresh attitude, which is reminiscent of blackened death metal bands such as BEHEMOTH and MGŁA, but with a personal twist that makes the whole tune genuinely unique. The slow pace in the beginning turns into a furious-yet-well-balanced explosion of anger into a transcendental path through several existential questions.
The following tune, ”Null,” shows a prominent post-black metal feeling, especially in the vocals, which is reminiscent of the early works of Austrian band HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY, while the drum work draws on a more conventional black metal tradition.
Track number three, ”Glare,” besides the fast paced drums and the tremolo picking riffs, puts some highlight on torment as a staple of GAEREA’s storytelling: ”Burning desire of blindness just watching it passing by. Wasting time living the most obsolete life and searching for ways to escape…” Anguished screams and harrowing growls as singing styles give this song a further sense of despair, in the manner of Swedish depressive suicidal black metal pioneers SHINING, but with a personal twist and in a totally different context, making GAEREA way less than a mere clone.
”Conspiranoia” is a hallucination wavering on the edge of chaos and order, where the perception of reality and the inner world collide. A majestic sense of anxiety is well expressed in the initial part of the song, thanks to an eerie guitar sound and a slow but martial drum pace. The vocals, more on the post-black metal side this time, join after a while and a furious blast beat provides a strong black metal vibe to the whole tune, which is also quite dynamic and rich in terms of variation – Gregorian chant-like vocals can also be heard at some point in the background, giving this track an extra kick.
On the other hand, ”Urge,” which is the shortest track on ”Limbo,” shows an approach that seems to be strongly influenced by death metal from the 90s with regard to riffing, drumming, and vocals, but also manages to include a feeling of sadness and anger that pervades the entire album, as an important part of GAEREA’s trademark sound and personality. The last song, ”Mare,” takes the listeners back to a more multilayered sound where, especially in the intro, the guitars and drums perfectly reflect a sense of drowning. The vocals give a dramatic twist, combining torment and beauty in one shot. The result is an extremely dynamic and polyhedric tune, both in terms of music and lyrics.
In conclusion, ”Limbo” is the ultimate proof of GAEREA’s maturity as a band, likely to be considered part of the blackened death metal scene as much as post-black metal, but with a certain something that, in my opinion, derives from the band’s peculiar visual identity, concept, and geographical origin, along with undisputed high-quality songwriting.
Written by Licia Mapelli
- To Ain
Season of Mist