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Apocalypse - 87%

Felix 1666, May 1st, 2018

"Hell Eternal" was released in 1999 and it seems as if Setherial wanted to end the 20th century with an appropriate apocalypse. The Great War is over? World War II ditto? That's not okay, the century needs an ending in fire. The aptly titled album shows that Sweden, currently the European country with the longest period of peace, has still a lot of martial energy under its surface.

Okay, the sheer vehemence of the material does not only blow the audience away, it is also at the expense of a differentiated production. A wall of sound forces the listeners back into their seats. On the one hand, I enjoy the uncompromising mentality and the pure blackness. On the other hand, the album lacks dynamic, because the noise level remains unchanged during the entire album, if I ignore a short section of the fourth thunderstorm.

The constantly raging Scandinavians did not forget to intersperse a minimum of melodies, but I am sure that I would not be able to distinguish the single songs on a concert. "Hell Eternal" does not suffer from monotony, because it never gets boring. Its brutality has a fascinating component. Nevertheless, this work offers more or less uniform compositions. It challenges albums such as "Vobiscum Satanas" and, no doubt, it has more muscles. But I am sorry, this does not mean that "Hell Eternal" wins the comparison. Sometimes less is more and Setherial have to face the fact that their tracks are less catchy and less variable. Indeed, this record hails from the most gruesome corner of hell, but it does not allow a brief look at any other location.

Be that as it may, there can be no doubt that Setherial have drunken from the blood-filled chalice of black metal. Tracks like "The Nightrealm" destroy everything that tries to resist. Extremely fast rhythms torture soul, mind and body and a greater distance to mainstream music is simply not imaginable. The sinister horde does not prefer conventional song structures and the dudes also spit on progressive patterns. They switch from hyperfast to ultra-hyperfast and back, that's it, but the compositions do also not lack substance. The fervent hatred of the musicians is mirrored by the seven spawns of evil in a very impressive way. Should I criticize that they just use the typical means, for example the throaty voice of the lead singer? I don't think so. Every sub genre needs an identity which is based on some core elements and therefore I have absolutely no problem with the general approach of Setherial.

It remains a mystery why bands like Dark Funeral or Marduk stand in the first and formations like Setherial or Thy Primordial wait in the second row. A better promotion, a better distribution, a better image, all these things can be the crucial factor. But in terms of music, I see no big difference. Honest, untameable and violent: this is "Hell Eternal". And I must add that it houses high quality black metal without exception. I can hardly wait to experience how the band will finish the 21st century, but I am sure that all will end in fire.