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Another masterpiece of subtlety in density - 91%

Sacraphobic, September 13th, 2004

This one's so instantly enjoyable that for a while I thought it may have "Beyond the Wandering Moon" beat, which is no mean feat. It's basically carved from the same piece of wood; folkish melodies subtly floating backwards and forwards across a pulsing beat to produce transcendent ambient black metal with death influences.

There are a couple of reasons why I initially favoured this over "Beyond...". Firstly, even though this isn't true in a lot of cases, the compositions on this release seem longer; not through being drawn out, but by simply having more packed in. It seems that Aeternus have managed to achieve a rare thing in extreme metal; retaining a great level of focus while being more varied than before. The melodies are more initially hooky, as well, though ultimately not quite as satisfying.

There's less blasting, which was never a problem for me (I think it works to the debut's benefit) but may have been for others, but other than that the drumming is similar; throbbing and driving the melodies forward with formidable force. There are quite a few mellifluous acoustic passages, which portray to me the peace that the warriors feel while fighting ferocious battles for honour and a better world, with the heavier parts representing said battles.

The vocals are powerful growls once again, and are more prominent in the mix, giving the recording a savage edge. The drums have a less trebly sound. The production is just generally fuller, giving the album less icyness but making up for it in power.

To sum up, whilst not quite as subtle or intelligently structured, this is nearly as good as "Beyond the Wandering Moon", which means it's an absolutely essential addition to your collection.