Good intentions, not so good execution

-- Ethereal Realm --

Stijn Daneels

Album genres:
heavy metal
Power metal
Album artists:
Rob Retalic Drums
Leon Synth Lead guitars
Jim McGrath Rhythm guitars
TNT Vocals
Sam Margaritis Bass

Review written by David Hardy.

Well, I'll make it simple here and be dead honest as well, I've completely redone this review. It's a review that could be simple in theory but that’s not at all the case in practice because, I'm not here to tear apart a new band who has just started out and deserves constructive feedback. So it’s now time to give me unfiltered thoughts about Ethereal Realm’s debut EP and hopefully, the band will improve as a result of my comments.


Ethereal Realm is not an old band. I would even say that it’s not even a band yet. It's a bunch of metalheads who are still looking for themselves. There's probably a genuine desire to play, to sing, to show what we can do, but sorry, the cohesion, the listening, the feeling, the personal touch, everything that makes a band a full-fledged band is not there yet.

To make matters worse, I'd say that “Enter The Realm” is an EP that smells like a demo. You know what the difference is between the two? 5000 euros! It's a bit brutal to say it like that, but the underlying idea is that a demo is done on the fly, just the band in a rehearsal room, there's no artistic direction, there's no real sound engineer, there's no time, there's sometimes not even any solid microphones or knowledge of recording or microphone placement, there's even less mixing or mastering, the effects are managed on the fly "because it sounds good", in short, it's amateurish. Here, well, despite the fact that we see a studio name, ... I'm not at all convinced that the necessary time (and therefore money) was taken to make this a proper EP.

As I said at the beginning of the review, it is difficult to write a review with a real objectivity when, at each moment, so many problems present themselves at all levels of creation, playing, recording, mixing, mastering. But I'll try to get it done because, after all, there’s still some something good in Ethereal Darkness’s “Enter The Realm” EP.

First of all, this four-track EP has everything you need to hear into order to see the direction they want to take and the means they have to get there. Obviously, some pruning will be necessary before arriving at a real album, but on the whole, we can hear a lot of influences such as "Iron Maiden," "Metallica," "The Cure," "David Bowie," "Pantera," etc. Having a sense of direction is good, but wanting to put everything everywhere, and above all, that everyone should put what they want where they want, that isn’t so great. The musicians, taken one after the other, manage quite well and TNT’s lead voice is interesting in full voice, his vocals really make me think of David Bowie.

Let's start with the first track "Reign of the Crown" which has all the possible mistakes in the first two minutes, the cheesy instrumental guitar intro withs the super kitschy and badly recorded "hoohohoh" chants as a bonus. TNT's guttural voice is shaky and clearly less interesting than his full voice. However, it’s still nice. It’s an opening song that deserves a shorter, tighter and better construction and less effects (like reverb) on the voices. Track two: "Watch us Bleed" all heard, but no big mistakes just: to put everything full blast and in front, it puts everyone behind. This is the track where I liked TNT’s vocals the most. He mainly uses his full voice and punctuates with the guttural which is really good. But a major strike goes to the soloist who didn't put himself forward when he should (we'll come back to that at the end of the review).

The EP’s third song “Time Machine" does not convince me at all. It's flat and doesn’t really go anywhere. The intensity of the voice, the tonality without doubt, the phrasing, once again everything is piled up to the point that I get the impression that nobody listened to each other and so delivered a messy track. While there still are some really good things in this song, for example the drum rise at 3:19, but which is not put forward (mix). The balance simply isn’t there. Finally there’s the fourth and final track “Nightmare,” a song that isn’t bad at all, despite the mixing excesses there are some genuinely good things in this tune! The song is catchy and energetic and if reworked it could be a really good!


After listening to the EP several times and discussing it with friends in the music business, I felt that there are two major flaws in this “Enter The Realm” EP. First and foremost, the mixing. The drums are way too prominent and it blurs out pretty much everything else in Ethereal Realm’s material. And second, the songs are too long and too inconsistent. Sure, you need variety in your material (nobody likes 1-trick ponies) but you also need to be deliberate about your style, pacing, delivery etc. Don’t just throw shit at the wall in the hope that something sticks.

And since I really want to give as much feedback to this fledging band as possible, I also saw the live clips on Ethereal Realm’s YouTube channel. And you learn a lot about a band by seeing them perform on stage. Singer TNT is in his place but you can't hear him clearly (in the video), bassist Sam is well in front (too much to be honest). Regarding soloist Leon, if he could play backstage he would do it, he stands there in a "don't look at me" mode when he should be the star on the front of the stage (especially when he jams those sweet solos), rhythm player Jim is present and does show some genuine energy, and drummer Rob, pretty much always plays in full throttle (you get the impression that this is his first band ever or that he's the youngest of the group and that he wants to show everyone that he belongs in this band, relax man, the others believe in you otherwise you wouldn't be here).

We shouldn’t forget that a band is more than just a bunch of people on stage! You need a dynamic, you need a management of equals, you need a management of people. I think that if they work on that, they will already be making a big step forward! Leon: claim your rightful place on stage. Jim: show more self-confidence. Sam: you’re not the only guy in the band, but since you like to be in front, fully show off your fast finger techniques but also allows the others to shine and evolve! Rob, you’re already doing your part, no need to overdo it!

And finally, find yourselves a good sound engineer, both live and on record! Someone with whom you can talk at length about your project, your influences, the goals you want to reach and the sounds that inspire you! Take your time! Finding your sound and discovering your individual strengths and weaknesses is really a matter of communication with each other and working together.


Although the execution of their debut EP leaves a lot to be desired (to say the least), Ethereal Realm does show genuine talent and clear intentions in what they want to eventually become. A solid old-school metal act that just needs the right creative and practical directions to really shine.