Gaerea are a Portuguese quintet that bounced into existence around 2016. Initially, the masks and uniformity of stage attire marked them out as somewhat of a gimmick, but their eponymous EP and subsequent 2018 debut album displayed substance that more than backs up their style. Seeing such potential, Season Of Mist quickly swept them up and commissioned legendary artist Eliran Kantor to create the cover for “Limbo”, their second opus.

“Limbo” successfully marries the epic progressive touches of Enslaved with the savage raw delivery of contemporary bands such as Aoratos, Blut Aus Nord and Deathspell Omega. Despite hints of dissonance and flirtations with a wealth of other influences, Gaerea never fully submit to the suffocating avant-garde realms of the aforementioned French trio and their ilk, maintaining a focused and powerful melodic riff-driven path.

The musicians of Gaerea display a breadth of skill sets, never sounding out of their league. This results in accomplished, focused and mature song composition with a variety of textures and tempos, conveying transcendent and bombastic overtures without becoming pretentious. The vocal delivery is suitably aggressive, carrying enough weighty emotion in the right places to clearly express a violent, anguished grief.

Put simply; stop chuntering about Uada and Mgla for a minute, stop looking at Behemoths Instagram posts, and get your ears around this. Boasting a polished production, yet raw and unbridled in delivery, “Limbo” is six tracks of unrelenting misanthropic beauty and brutality that is just the right tonic for these unsettling times.

(8.5/10 Doogz)