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Aeternus turned me into an instant fan with their first two albums, "Beyond the Wandering Moon" and "...And So the Night Became", so it was with great eagerness that I picked up their third full-length release "Shadows of Old" the second I saw it for sale. On the first listen, though, I was greatly disappointed - it seemed that they had traded their own unique atmosphere for more speed and brutality. I persevered, though, giving it a few more spins, and ultimately I grew to like it quite a bit. It is true that the band has toned down it’s tendency to write longer songs and include more repetitive/hypnotic/atmospheric parts, moving more into faster and brutal, almost death- metallish territory. After digesting it some, though, I noticed that the atmosphere is still present, just ‘intensified’, being more ‘angry’ than simply ‘reflective’(for lack of better words). Right off the bat the album starts with some relentless blasting on the opening cut "Under the Eternal Blackened Sky" (and I mean RIGHT at the start - not even single second of intro music...), and it doesn’t let up until somewhere in the middle of track two or three. There are some of the longer, slower, hypnotic passages in some of the later songs, and they also include some nicely melodic riffs and acoustic-only intros to later songs, but overall this album is faster and heavier than their first two albums. It does take time to grow on you, but once it does you’ll like it just as much as the first two.
Almost-unrelated side note - it’s unfortunate to see that the whole ‘take off the corpse paint for a totally gay look’ trend has infected Aeternus as well. As if the cover wasn’t bad enough, the member photos inside the booklet are just beyond gay...except for Morrigan and her plastic pants and tank-top, of course...) Don’t let that sway you away from the music though - this album rocks.
(Originally published at LARM (c) 2000)