without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Aeternus – A Darker Monument
Aeternus is a band mostly criticized for their gradual switch of style from folkish black metal with death influences to a more blackened death/ normal death metal sound. While indeed more conventional in some aspects its still 100% Aeternus and in fact they seemingly created something new with their last few releases. Something that seems a bit rock and rolling at times, black/death'n roll maybe? Most of the fans of the older style of Aeternus don't seem to be death'n roll fans at all. In fact Death'n roll in general seems to be a bit hated in the underground metal community. This results in negative reviews and might make people who would like this band otherwise not check their later material out. Which ofcourse would be a real shame. So here is a review which I hope will make more people check this great band out.
Lets begin at the beginning. The album art itself. I find the album cover to be reasonable. A bit too computer generated looking but yeah not everyone seems to be able to afford/find a good artist.
The lyrics are decent and of more than a few songs they seem to be related to ancient mythology. For example The Trident seems to refer to the ancient greek deity Poseidon and Litany of Ra amazingly enough seems to be about the ancient Egyptian god Ra. This doesnt mean the lyrics are pure awesome though. The lyrics vary from decent/good (the aforementioned Litany of Ra) to mediocre (Seen Through Abhorrent Eyes)
Production and mix wise the album is good. With a few flaws here in there with things changing slightly in sound without a real reason but nothing bad. The Guitar tone is heavy and dry and nicely in the middle of the clean – dirty sides of production. The Drums are clear and sound good. The bass is as usual in this genre somewhere in the background. The vocals finally are also well produced. Very audible and exactly loud enough. Thus in the end the mix is basically done just fine were maybe the bass having a more prominent role would be nice but that is common in this style of metal.
Now for the songs themselves. This album has quite a couple of good songs. With The Trident being my personal favorite. The songs always have nice headbangable riffing going on. The solo's are done nice as well but not extraordinary or anything but nicely complement riffing thus done the way solo's should be in extreme metal. The drumming is nicely varied with blasting here and there and of course plenty of double bass. I am personally quite pleased with blasting only being used when appropriate and not entire songs though as what is seemingly common these days in all kinds of extreme metal sadly. The bass is hard to be a good judge on because of it being fairly in the background but is fairly competent none the less. However there are a few problems with some songs being a bit samey while not being filler entirely. Especially for the less stand out tracks like Darkstorm and Seen Through Abhorrent Eyes. This isn't a really big problem because this mostly means similar riffing and song structures and these themselves are still definitely quality. Finally I cant really describe this album as old school death metal or anything. This album is unique with the closest resemblance being maybe The Chasm.
This album in the end is not a revolutionary album yet is still unique. And Certainly better than most death metal released in recent years. In my opinion thus a must have for all fans of (blackened) death metal. In the end I am going to give it a score of 85% flaws being somewhat samey songs, lack of audible bass and a tiny amount of faults of the production. The good being the riffs, the varied drumming, good vocal work and just some songs with just excellent song structure ideas. In the end if all the songs were as good as The Trident and Litany of Ra I would give it a score somewhere in the low 90's.
A Darker Monument (2003):
What he have here is a more polished and succinct Aeternus overall. Shorter songs and sharper production. Admittedly a lot of the droning nuances and folkish/epic melodies of Aeternus' early career are just about gone... Instead the guitarists churn out a decidedly more death metal style of riffing. A style that is, thankfully, still far from your typical retarded blasting Brutal Death bands out there. Not being familiar with the predecessor "Ascension of Terror" I can't really say wether or not this shift in style is unique to this release. Regardless, I enjoyed the shift in style overall. From the crawling basslines of "Slavestate" to the stomping push of "Darkstorm" and almost doomish riffs of "Genocide Delight" the songs are seperate but also blend together well, albeit without the same tangible atmosphere you'd find on thier first three albums. It's not the most fair comparison I could make, but no doubt the band as taken one or two queues from the popularity of bands like Nile. I guess that is a bit of an insult... but this is FAR more listenable. The vocals do a lot to distract from the sometimes repetetive riffing, and are in fact well done and somewhat varied. Guitar solos pop up here and there, (Sons of War a favorite of mine) overall decent leads that fit the songs. The same could be said for the bass, maintaining a low rumble throughout, but occasionally coming afront a bit (The Trident, Slavestate). Drumming is solid/varied overall, well produced.
Aeternus is, in my opinion, one of the better Black/Death metal hybrids out there today and this is a fine release. Regardless of how much this doesn't sound like Aeternus' earlier material, it is still quite heavy and well done black/death metal.
As if a great folk/black beginning was not enough, then black/death, Aeternus apparently changed styles to better fit their lyrics to the likes of pure death metal.
Still, the lyrics really are not that good at all, as they all eminate a false feeling of the typical trends of modern death metal by trying to be dark and mysterious. They are not.
The music, on the other hand, compensates just a bit for the terrible lyrics, but it seems Aeternus's sound has taken a turn for the worse. Every song is monotonous and boring in their own right, for the music has no life and merely drones on and on from the commencement of a song to the end of one. At the same time, one cannot help but notice there seems to be some Cannibal Corpse influence now, which does bring excitement sometimes to a few songs' passages, while most of the time it just simply does not work.
No longer apparent for the most part are the brutally fast and murderous drums as heard on Ascension of Terror. Creativity from the drummer as well has been lost, as he really does not offer anything innovative on this album.
The bass? Well, it's basically inaudible.
The riffs themselves are mundane and exhausted. It almost seems like the guitarists just were not feeling up to par to execute the true sound of death metal, so they threw in a few catchy, yet uninspired riffs and abused them to play a practical joke on the listener so they can skip the track. Luckily, there are a few pretty good guitar solos on A Darker Monument, but even they are weak in their structure and showcase nothing new.
Finally, there is something worthy enough to be considered true to the grand, original sounds of this band; the vocals are performed rather well in the tone of normal death vocals, and give color to the album which so badly needed it. Still, even the vocalist has his bad moments when he tries to sound dark and mysterious by giving off really WEIRD-sounding vocals that were at all not needed on this album. It only adds more to the overall weak sound to A Darker Monument.
This album could have been a favorite among death metallers, but instead, Aeternus chose to be lazy and not conceptualize what they were doing in the process of making this album. Everything on here has already been done a long time ago by countless other bands. Sure the album has its strong areas, but there are hardly any. Unfortunately, everything about this album is bland and not creative at all.