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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.