AerisThis seven track work is split into three sections: Flame, Richard-Horizon-Robot and Captain Blood. There is a clue in this apparent eccentricity.

I realised quickly that an open mind is needed for this album by Aeris from France. It’s like a progressive fantasy. The more I have listened to “Temple”, the better it has become. “Flame” starts with a familiar heavy metal tone and high-in-the-range technical guitar trickery. It blunders along and may seem chaotic but there’s an intriguing array of sounds and sensations, as through a psychedelic progressive landscape we’re taken away to a colourful and far away land. The bass rumbles in post-metal style but the guitar strikes out flamboyantly. At this point we enter “Hidden Sun” the second part of “Flame” and the world has become foggy and industrial. The flamboyance has gone for now and made way for hardship, gloom and terror. Big chords strike up as the air becomes filled with doom, still with the shadowy backdrop. Somehow the almost impenetrable industrial scene is interrupted by our friend the flamboyant guitarist who strikes up his tune to the heavy framework. It doesn’t make sense but it rounds off “Flame”.

Although the guitarist is recognisably the same on “Richard”, the style takes on a new aspect. Funky and discordant progressive metal takes over. The guitarist stands up and lets his instrument speak but this isn’t about one dominant party. The deep tone of the bass balances things out. Then there is a wondrous sound like crystalline drops of water falling. It is “Horizon” and it is magnificent. It may be repetitive but it is a reflection of nature, pure like a Japanese garden and featuring a subtle combination of sounds I could listen to all day. It’s like a glass of cool water on a hot day.

“Robot” continues the delicacy with a lush, jazz-like rhythm. Inevitably it deviates into the experimental, combing the soft touch with an altogether stranger and more challenging air. A more urgent progressive metal number develops and then stops, making way for the technical post metal prog of “Captain Blood”. It has the wooziness and strangeness of 70s prog, yet to start there’s an element of Opeth and as it progresses, literally, a few quiet moments are taken for reflection before a pattern is set of modern progressiveness along the lines of Canvas Solaris. Jazz patterns emerge but this is most of all like a gentle progressive celebration. The sounds may be unusual but this is pleasing, sophisticated and to Aeris’s own word, ethereal. It’s a nice way to end.

Like the artwork of this 28 minute album, this is a work of colourful imagination. The mixture of styles could lead to the accusation of disjointedness but I found this is about enjoying the series of moments. “Temple” takes us way from our reality. It is highly skilful and intriguing.

(8.5/10 Andrew Doherty)