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The pinnacle of musical genius - 100%

epicdrumline, June 29th, 2014

I will be the first to admit that black metal is not my favorite genre, I much prefer brutal and tech death to most others. This statement stands true, unless I'm talking about this album. I think that ratings should carry a certain weight behind them and only the cream of the crop deserve even over a 90%, let alone a 100%. This is the only album I have ever heard that is fully deserving of a perfect score, solely because it is a perfect album in every way I can think of. Anyone who is a fan of metal in general can find something they will enjoy here and everyone should listen to it at some point in their life; it is enlightening, magnificent and will change the way you look at music forever.

Aeternus has had a long and storied career, involving lineup changes and even genre transitions, whom some say was arguably a bad idea, but I think they are one of the few bands that did, over time, successfully change from black metal to more straightforward death metal. For this album, we had the ideal lineup and here is why I say that: Ares, Morrigan and Vrolok transcended what it means to be musicians for this album. I share an insight with a fellow reviewer, when I say that they were no longer individuals when they created this jewel, they converged their minds to become one omniscient being, capable of conjuring a product that is flawless. No instrument overpowers the others in the mixing or in the performances and everyone was on the same page when this was written. I wont go over every song, just the ones I think are very important to the whole picture.

The album opener "There's No Wine like the Blood's Crimson" starts with a 5 minute awe-inspiring, setting builder that gets the listener ready for the journey and tone of the album. After the long percussive piece ends, the main riff starts and you know something is going to happen. The first vocals of the album are one the most spine-tingling moments in music I've ever heard; Ares comes in with his powerful growl and yells, "Bloodred sky, bloodred fields, the sun in it's last breath, providing the shadows of the trees". If you like these kinds of vocals and you don't get full body chills from listening to that, then you're not human. After the first sentence you can assume what the album will be about, and the rest of the lyrics portray Ares killing armies of men with no remorse; a great subject for the genre and actually different than most. The song is very long at over 13 minutes, but the length plays a key role in the tone of the song and the album as a whole. This song is plenty enough for the listener to want more and go through the whole album.

The third song, "Warrior of the Crescent Moon" is my personal favorite of the album and perhaps my favorite black metal song of all time. It opens with absolutely gorgeous acoustic guitars, then almost instantly transitions to the darkest and heaviest tone of the album, with lower tuned guitars and slower brooding drums the keep the pace slow yet still moving. One thing that gets me about this song is the use of the keyboards throughout, they are only used when it is seems they are necessary and come in at perfect times to break the monotony that can be the guitars and drums. This seems to be the story for a couple songs on the album and it is another reason this album is so great, they don't over use the keyboards and synths to create mood like most other black metal bands, but only to amplify it in certain places.

The album has a steadiness to it that is present through most of it, but it never permeates or overstays its welcome; there are a huge number of timing changes and even some really fast thrashy sections like in "When the Crow's Shadow Falls" that could put some thrash bands to shame. There is also a large variance in tone of guitars throughout whether it be extremely heavy riff based songs or more upbeat melodic parts in places. Alone with a huge variance in the guitars, the vocals may be the strongest part of this entire piece of art. Ares has a range that very few people can compare to and he shows off his extremely low growls, powerful screams/shrieks and even some clean vocals like in "Ild Dans". All of the pieces are so well presented, while you listen to it, you don't think that the guitars are sweet, or the drums are cool; you just look at the big picture and try not to release your bowels.

This album is all about story telling and no good story can be finished without a climax and an ending, and "... and So the Night Became" is an obvious climax of the album. Even if you didn't know it was the last actual song of the album, I guarantee you could tell just by listening to it and reading/hearing the lyrics; "With horned wings and cold minds, the dwelling and feeding, it is complete. Now we rise!". A great way to wrap up the great story that unfolds around you; a story I will not spoil because it is worth discovering for your own. The last track, "Fyrndeheimen" is an instrumental that is very militaristic in nature, for a good reason. At the same time, it adds elements of folk and pagan metal including instruments typically found in those genres. It is a great resolution and a perfect ending to the adventure of this album. One thing that bothers me, but is due to my own ignorance, is that the story has certain holes in it due to some of the songs not being in English, but this can't really be a complaint now, can it?

To mention some of the outside elements of the album; the production is perfect. It is in no way over-produced and not raw sounding to where you cant hear every element that is before you. The artwork is not fantastic, but Aeternus is not really known for their artwork on the front, but for what is on the inside. There are 2 different cover arts, the Karmageddon Media one and the original Hammerheart Records one.

This album is a must for anyone who has ever had an interest in metal, whether it be folk, death, black, or anything in between. This is true dark metal and is a necessity to all; I highly suggest you give this a listen. An album that you can listen to for eternity and never get tired of is an album worth a 100%, and this is one of those. I recommend you listen to it in order. There's no wine like the bloods crimson, warrior of the crescent moon, Ild dans.