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Powerful and almost flawless - 95%

zhay777, January 2nd, 2014

Doom:VS became famous already in its early years. Johan maybe has borrowed some fame from Draconian, but the result is more than satisfying: in this project he created powerful death doom metal with elements of funeral doom as well. Aeternum Vale is perfect debut, which opened many doors to him in the Doom industry.

Aeternum Vale is 50 minutes of crushing, yet emotional death doom metal, which almost has no similarities with other bands. Most of the modern artists in this genre try to create something that already was created by My Dying Bride and Anathema years ago. But here Johan has taken new path, which do not go near neither Mourning Beloveth and, surprisingly, nor Draconian.

Well, the cover art of the album is nothing special, just typical grey-white photo with semi-unrecognizable silhouettes there, but we mustn't judge book by its cover. The atmosphere of the album is just amazing. Johan doesn't often use keyboards, so the whole atmosphere is created mostly by the guitars. It's riffs are generally slow and moderate and sometimes moves to fast tempo (for example: track 'the crawling insects'). Here you will be able to hear two different types of vocals, strong grawl, which is the main and the lead type of vocals, and 'hellish' clean vocals, which gives songs their diversity and light parts. And also you will be able to hear great orchestral parts in the songs The Faded Earth and Aeternus.

Johan has some kind if tradition to make the last tracks of the albums long and over-emotional. In 'over-emotional' I don't mean that there are more emotions than needed, there are just more emotions than in other songs. The duo of grawl and clean vocal along with the groove, slow riffs make amazing atmosphere, which gives the song the ability to 'sum up' whole album, which leaves the listener excited and wanting to hear more.

To conclude, Aeternum Vale is in the 'must-know list'. Every fan of doom metal will appreciate the effort Johan has put here and some of them may find germ for their collection too.

Aeternum Vale - 92%

Noctir, November 27th, 2013

Doom:VS is a side project of Draconian's Johan Ericson. While that band possesses far too many gothic elements for me to tolerate, his solo work is very solid doom/death with obvious influences from the older works of Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride and Katatonia, but with a definite character of its own. This band was recommended to me by a friend, some years ago, but I took quite a while to get around to really listening to it, assuming most modern things to not be worth the time to listen to. That may be the case with black, death and thrash, but it would seem that the various forms of doom metal are still growing stronger. Once I really gave this some attention, it did not leave my ears for many months and is still something that I find myself returning to when in certain moods.

Aeternum Vale, latin for 'Farewell Forever', was released in July 2006. From the initial moments of "The Light That Would Fade", one can tell that this is far darker and more serious than anything released by Draconian. The guitars are crushingly heavy, possessing somewhat of an oppressive feeling, which matches the overall atmosphere of misery and hopelessness. Unlike a lot of funeral doom bands, things never get too slow to where it feels as if nothing is happening. Obviously, the entire album is a rather slow-paced affair, yet there is enough diversity in the songwriting that each song really stands out on its own and you never find yourself getting bored. The guitar melodies are well thought-out and perfectly convey a feeling of utter despair. Johan utilizes harsh vocals for the most part, in a deep style but not to the point where it no longer has any meaning. Some vocalists employ such a guttural approach that it renders the vocals completely ineffective, but that is not the case here. There are bits of clean vocals, occasionally, but mostly in a backing capacity. The drumming is used sparingly enough, never going overboard and distracting from the riffs. Everything really comes together to serve the singular purpose of opening the gates to the darkness of hell that lingers within us all. As the album progresses, you can feel yourself being dragged deeper into the abyss.

"Everything dies within"

The lyrics, themselves, do not merely tell the tale of one man's sorrow. One really gets the sense that the message is that this empty world holds nothing but grief and misfortune for all of us. Still, despite the fact that we are all here in this miserable wasteland of nothingness, we must carry our own load and thus we suffer together and in solitude at the same time. This is emphasized by the woeful lead in "The Faded Earth", which almost digs into your chest and carves away at the hole where your heart once resided. These days, it seems as if a lot of bands have forgotten the usefulness of guitar solos and the fact that they can really add a lot of depth to what is going on, when used correctly. Perhaps, there is still some rejection of the typical, obligatory guitar solo that one would often hear in the '80s and even into the '90s, but many musicians do themselves and their music a disservice to neglect this. There is very minimal use of keyboards, as well as some spoken word parts, but these things are done tastefully. Occasionally, there are sections that use clean guitars, also. These quiet parts are not terribly common, but used enough to add yet another dynamic to the album. To further this, there is also some limited use of tremolo melodies to accentuate the typical doom riffing.

The highlight of the album is "Oblivion Upon Us", starting with a sombre piano bit and then erupting into an abysmal dirge of utter melancholy. It features some quieter parts that have clean spoken vocals, adding to the dismal atmosphere. The faint hints of keyboard use really demonstrates that less is more. There is somewhat of a nightmarish feeling to this song, at times, then bleeding into sections that are more sorrowful and epic. This very memorable and somewhat melodic piece of music captures the feeling of misery and despair that awaits us all, those who continue to live in this empty and soulless world. Life is a big nothing. Any attempt to create meaning will only end in wasted effort and broken hopes.

"I see no end to all this pain... the world is dead through my eyes"

For the most part, Aeternum Vale is structured well. The song placement works and the tracks themselves are all at just the right length in the sense that they have time to take you on a journey into misery, yet they aren't too long to the extent where you disconnect from what is going on and become bored. "The Crawling Insects" may be the one exception, in that it seems a little weaker than the rest. The only song that goes past the ten-minute mark is "Aeternus". This is a good thing, compared to bands that offer up half a dozen songs that range from ten to twenty minutes. The running time of this album is just under fifty minutes, which is a solid dose of doom without becoming tedious to listen to. The overall sound is really good, as well. Of course, death/doom is not supposed to sound all that raw or necro (with some exceptions), so the standards of production are completely different from the likes of Black Metal. Everything here is rather clear and this works well with the mournful guitar riffs, giving them the full ability to draw you in and crush your spirit. For fans of the older works of Paradise Lost or My Dying Bride, this is highly recommended and does well to build on that style.

Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com (27 Nov. 2012)

Oblivion upon us... - 100%

labrysblackmetal, December 18th, 2006

Doom:vs... possibly one of the most depressing, but uplifting bands I've ever heard. Each song on this album is well written and has it's own unique sound. I have not yet come across a band like this before and I cannot put into words how much this band has influenced me.

Every song on this album is very well planned out from the background choir (clearly a keyboard but still good none-the-less) to the solos that add such a feeling of utter depression. The songs are soothing and give you a peaceful calm feeling at times but can also bring utter chaos. This album was very enjoyable in all aspects, you can put this album on repeat forever and it will still blow your socks off everytime you hear it.

The main song for me that sticks out is Oblivion Upon Us; when he does his spoken intro then the song just pounds in and then there's the lead in it... This album is probably one of the most impressive funeral doom releases I've ever heard, but that's my opinnion. I highly recommend going out and buying this album as soon as you can, it's worth the money you spend.

Songs that stick out: Oblivion Upon Us, Crawling Insects and Empire of the Fallen.

"Farewell Forever" - 90%

Agapetos_Typhonis, October 2nd, 2006

Johan Ericson’s brain child, DOOM:VS, is in my opinion one of the most promising new wave Doom Metal acts. This one-man project encompasses various sullen musical styles, ranging from gloomy Gothic/Doom melodies of Draconian (Swe), slow-paced Funeral Doom bands like Shape of Despair, to a bit uptempo Doom/Death bands, such as Mourning Beloveth. Aeternum Vale (meaning "farewell forever") could easily be labeled as one of the best Doom Metal releases of 2006. In a little over 50 minutes we plunge into bleak vistas of despair, coupled with beautiful yet haunting melodies. Production is very solid and polished, we can hear that Johan really did take the time for this album. Despite its gloomy genre, the music surprisingly never gets boring. This is achieved through evocative guitar solos, which conjure up astonishing soundscapes. The very high quality of vocals, alternating between clean lamentations and deep guttural growls, help to build up the atmosphere. Funeral Doom drumming tends to be quite tedious and monotonous, on Aeternum Vale, however, this never happens - drums offer progressive variations and slightly quicker tempos. On The Crawling Insects track we can even hear some blast beats. There are no deviations of quality throughout the entire album and some songs are almost catchy, perhaps a little too catchy. Because of its refreshing variety the album can be easily recommended to newbies in heavier Doom Metal subgenres.