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This album is one huge disappointment, in every respect. I have had it in my collection for quite some time now, but frankly, I don’t like it at all. Initially I thought that this would be one of those albums you have to get used to in order to appreciate. But that only works with albums such as, let’s say, Emperor’s Prometheus, or, to refer to a quite different genre, Hate Eternal’s King of All Kings.
What Setherial managed to come up with after a rather long hiatus is not what I had expected. After the superb ...Nord album, their follow-up efforts were a pleasure to the ear as well. Speed and originality were key elements.Over time, however, they sacrificed originality in favour of speed alone. The epic character of ...Nord was almost destroyed with Lords of the Nightrealm. However, this sophomore full-length was still quite good, probably due to the atmosphere it had because of the low-quality production and the almost inaudible snare drum. It just added something, which, combined with the raging guitars and Kraath’s great vocals, made it into a good album.
Setherial returned with Hell Eternal. This time the music sounded crystal-clear, whilst retaining that cold and ‘evil’ atmosphere. Even the epic element had been partially restored (see track 5, The Sign of Wrath Awakened for example), and it seemed as though Setherial were doing well in establishing a name for themselves.
But then this piece of redundancy was released. As I said, it is a disappointment in all respects. The booklet cover is plain stupid. The artwork is nothing special; bland and boring. And the band pictures are simply.....laughable. Don’t take me wrong, I like corpse paint and all, but Black Metal band pics tend to come out funny sometimes (remember the pics of Immortal’s At the Heart of Winter?). This is a prime example: look how serious they take themselves. The pics of the previous albums came out pretty good and convincing in a traditional Black Metal kind of way, but this....
More important than pics of course, is the music. And this is another area in which Setherial comes up short. This is so standard. That in itself would not be a big issue, as many a band has survived without ever being innovative, were it not for the fact that the music sounds so mediocre and uninspired. Sure, the musicianship is still there, and the production is probably the best they’ve ever had, but it all sounds so redundant, so boring, as though the band just ran into the studio, recorded it, and ran out again, just so they had another album out.
So, this is kind of an insult. Not so much to the listener, who can choose not to buy it, but to themselves, as a band. With three good albums, what were they thinking? Either Setherial likes this album a lot, or they setteled for much, much less. Seeing the fact that they have released some great music before, I’d say they did the latter. What does this mean? For one, if you want to get a taste of good, varied, and yet powerful fast Black Metal, get some of Setherial’s previous outputs, preferably ...Nord. Second, Setherial should think about whether they should quit, or step back and look at what they have released before Endtime Divine and go from there, because they can do much better than this.