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Stale - 73%

The_Ghoul, February 6th, 2009

Setherial are one of the "second tier" black metal bands from Sweden, being not nearly as well known as their fellow countrymen Marduk, Dark Funeral, and Dissection, but aggressive and vicious all the same. Their early works are an excercise in haunting melody, evolving into the grand snowy soundscape that was Nord. Unfortunately, like a lot of bands, a time comes when they lose the very inspiration that often separated them from the hordes and give in to stylistic memes.

Musically this is barely differentiable from Dark Funeral's output since Vobiscum Sathanas. Obviously Kraath and co. liked Vobiscum Sathanas, because there is little here that doesn't amount to VS fellatio. The direction they were going in with Lords of the Nightrealm was obvious and the seeds of cliche' had germinated and were festering under that grimy mix full of blastbeats and satanic hate. All the subtlety of past releases is gone here, replaced by a rather cartoonish satanism that is only intimidating if you have peanut butter for brains. As a fellow musician, I must relate that the insistence of the band on doing only minor chords is grating after even only one song. It's a wafer-thin approach and filling an album with nothing but minor chords over blastbeats is hardly any better an approach than the fetid minimalist punk approach of only having 3 chords in a song.

With the ouster of Otto "Moloch" Wiklund on drums, Mysteriis replaces him, and Kraath replaces Mysteriis on guitar. Right there, I must say nobody is playing the right instrument. Kraath needs to get back behind the microphone where he belongs, and Mysteriis needs to return back to the guitars because his single-note lines were one of Setherial's defining traits, and, as well, his drumming is pretty one-dimensional blasturbation. Choronzon is an ok guitarist, but for some reason, be it the washed out Abyss production or the general oversimplification of everything, the guitar duo here has lost the spark and most chords/riffs get buried under the artificially high-end production. As well, the drums are buried deep under the mix. If you're not careful, the sound will soar right over your head. I don't know why Kraath gave up the microphone, as his replacement, Wrath, is one of the most generic Legion/Nocturno Culto clones I've ever heard. His voice simply lacks the piercing power that Kraath's had. Oh well.

Still though, once you get past the obnoxious production and obvious Dark Funeral worship, this is a pretty good album to headbang to. However, if you're a metalhead worth your salt, you already have quite a few albums chock-full of hyperspeed norsecore black metal that is most likely better produced and more inspired than this. I listen to it, yes, because it isn't offensive to my ears, but that's hardly a claim to fame. In a musical paradigm that is getting more and more saturated each day with characterless norsecore, it makes little sense to jump on the bandwagon and start shouting "SATAN!!!" as much as you can over wall of sound guitars and endless blasturbation. It just doesn't make any sense, and if anything, if I were Setherial, I'd move AWAY from that sound, not TOWARDS it. If you're new to Setherial, get everything up to and including Lords of the Nightrealm. This (Hell Eternal) is where Setherial gave up their identity as a band and became yet another cliche' black metal band from Sweden and will provide you with no context about the band and no clue to their musical personality.