Written by Ellis Heasley
DVNE – Etemen Ænka
Post Metal from Edinburgh, UK
Releases March 19th, 2021
With a runtime of 67 minutes, Etemen Ænka, the third album from Edinburgh-based progressive/post-metallers Dvne, makes for quite the undertaking. While hardly a rarity for music of this kind, records this long tend to go one of two ways. Either they stretch out as painful unfocused slogs which struggle to maintain their listeners’ attention; or, less often, they have the mind-bending effect where time appears to fold in on itself and the lengthy runtime hardly registers. Fortunately in Dvne’s case, it’s definitely the latter. Etemen Ænka is a gargantuan record whose ten tracks draw comparisons to some of the most respected and creative names in metal, including the likes of Cult Of Luna, Mastodon and The Ocean.
Dvne are well-known for their love of sci-fi. Their name is even a reference to the Frank Herbert sci-fi epic Dune. These leanings very much remain on Etemen Ænka, which the band describe as a concept record following the story of a civilisation through centuries. As is often the case with concept albums, the story itself isn’t particularly easy to follow as a listener, but there is definitely a strong dystopian sci-fi feel which runs through the record. This is accentuated even more by the band’s use of synths and textures which are reminiscent of sci-fi classics like Blade Runner or Robocop
Etemen Ænka definitely feels like a record best listened to in one sitting. It flows brilliantly, with several shorter, quieter pieces (these still between three and five minutes long) which break up the album’s multiple towering progressive post-metal epics. These longer pieces are also often impressively dynamic, with lengthy moments of quiet and build which serve to accentuate the band’s crushing heaviness. It’s a trick straight out of the books of the likes of Cult Of Luna or ISIS, and is executed to a similarly high standard to that of those bands.
The flow of the record, combined with the fact that the quality is invariably excellent does make it tough to pick out specific highlights. Songs which do stand out however are the album’s second and fifth tracks, Towers and Omega Severer respectively. Both of these exceed nine minutes, and both definitely justify their runtimes. Each is a staggering, dynamic piece with moments of world-ending heaviness juxtaposed with more mellow, intricate, and progressive sections. The latter is also one of several tracks to feature a guest appearance from Lissa Robertson, whose distant backing vocals behind the song’s guitar solo feel very Dark Side Of The Moon-era Pink Floyd in particular.
Another stand-out track is the album’s seventh, Sì-XIV. While still grounded in the fictitious world Dvne have created for Etemen Ænka, this track does also draw some parallels with our own world, with the band taking “the point of view of the dominated lower classes living in difficult conditions.” Musically, it’s an absolute rager, with the kind of spidery guitar riffs Mastodon’s Brent Hinds would be proud of, and moments of fierce booming vocals which bring to mind Gojira’s Joe Duplantier. Rest assured, neither of those comparisons are made lightly.
Etemen Ænka should definitely have listeners hanging on to its every minute. The band wrap things up with Asphodel, a delicate and beautiful track which features another appearance from Roberston, followed by the album closer Satuya, another monumental epic. As the latter fades to a final minute and a half of atmospheric soundscapes, it’s hard not to want to go through the whole journey all over again. Etemen Ænka is something truly special, and easily one of the strongest metal releases of the year so far.