Genre: Black Metal
Country: Portugal
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Year: 2018

Gaerea are a newcomer band taking their job very seriously, as they’re aiming high from their first release and they’re trying to come out as professional as possible, both in terms of music and aesthetics. Their first EP in 2016 eluded me completely, but now the debut album “Unsettling Whispers” was a very good reason to check out the band and see what it’s made of, since from the cover and the photos of the band, it seems they have invested a lot in this project so far.

“Unsettling Whispers” has a solid forty one minutes duration and seven tracks in total, all of them new compositions for the record. Gaerea have spent time in the studio mastering their sound, which is pompous and might have some additional effects in the vocals, but I can’t say I was satisfied with the production of “Unsettling Whispers”, which is too loud and overpolished. And when the dynamic range meter gives an unhealthy DR4 for it, you can see that the loudness war stands strong and it has damaged the quality of this record a bit, with the most obvious example being the plastic sound of the drums. It doesn’t sound natural at all and it gets annoying to my ears after a while.

Musically, Gaerea have lots of ideas and there are some legit riffs here and there in the record, yet the atmosphere the album evokes, or the compositions themselves, do not remind of black metal that much. Most of the record moves in melodic death patterns (guitar lines, choruses and the epicness of it), like in the track “Absent” which is like an At the Gates b-side, or “Extension to Nothingness” and “Lifeless Immortality”. I really liked how the first track “Svn” has a long serene introduction but then blasts a faster part towards the end, while some of the lyrics are understandable and the subject regarding the band is generally about negativity, even though the music itself isn’t that funereal at any point.

Only at a couple of moments I felt a bit of a black metal motif arising, like in the middle and ending of “Whispers”, which again walks towards post-black structures if anything else, but other than that I would rather say Gaerea are a modern / melodeath band. I can’t say everything the band plays is original, since they have rather known extreme metal lines that they follow, however they have completely avoided the trap of being copy cats of other bands, which is a good sign for any band out there.

I believe they are still a bit out of focus and trying too hard at some aspects of their band, when what they need to improve is the music first and then, don’t leave their music in the hands of modern studio remixers. I think “Unsettling Whispers” loses a lot of its beauty from the harmful production it has, at least to my ears.In total, I enjoyed a bit less than half the record, which is a rather disappointing outcome, but as it finished I thought that this band has some potential for the future. “Unsettling Whispers” is made of mainly melodic death metal riffs already heard of, some blast beating and harsh vocals, it’s an underwhelming record that I expected a bit more of after the first track.