Aeternam // Disciples of the Unseen
Rating: 3.5/5.0 —Solid debut, can’t wait for more!
Label: Metal Blade
Release Date(s): EU: 15.02.2010 | US: 02.16.2010
Egyptian metal is apparently a genre now! I didn’t have any clue! I just thought it was kind of a thing that Nile did. And then it was Nile and Behemoth. And then it was Nile, Behemoth and SepticFlesh. And now it’s Nile, Behemoth, SepticFlesh and Aeternam! I think that counts as a genre! So, that’s pretty cool in and of itself. Oh, and it turns out that Aeternam is pretty cool themselves, leading to a generally all around happy feeling for a few fleeting moments before the general irritants that keep me so angry all the time come crashing back in.
Though, really, Egyptian Metal doesn’t describe much except the mode the band plays in all the time, so as a responsible reviewer it is my job to elucidate what exactly it is that this band is doing and what they’re doing well (and not-so-well). Like many other bands, Aeternam is fundamentally a melodic death metal band. Though, they border the line into what I would call “progressive” death metal, due to the use of acoustics, tribal drums and other not-necessarily-metal kind of things to build atmosphere and songs in general. But fundamentally Aeternam still whips out the melody, guitar harmonies and mid-paced riffs and growls enough to make you feel comfortable calling them melodic death metal. The other side to the band’s sound is a blasty death metal style that is definitely Nile influenced. However, due to differences in production and writing style (an ear more towards melody and drums much lower in the mix), the band manages to differentiate itself from the Egyptian metal giants pretty easily.
The writing on here is solid and dynamic, as well. Not only is the band obviously influenced by death metal bands, there is a pop sense and power metal sensibility on here that very rarely shows up in death metal. On tracks like “Esoteric Formulae” and “Goddess of Masr” you can definitely hear power metal influences (the two that spring to mind repeatedly are Iced Earth and Symphony X). One could say that this is partially due to the band’s vocalist, who has a great baritone range and is not afraid to show off his pipes. However, he’s also not overly showy with his vocals and they only grace a few tracks on the whole album, keeping them sparse and effective. However, there is a distinctively power/classic metal guitar approach on a lot of these songs.
Disciples of the Unseen is a fantastic debut record for this Canadian quintet. While the band isn’t breaking a whole lot of new ground, they are melding some sounds into something that is definitely their own! The more melodic take on Egyptian Metal with the fantastic grooves (like on “Ouroboros”) and excellent vocal performances, as well as a great band performance is definitely a recipe for success. Some of the tracks on here (most notably “Through the Eyes of Ea”) are a bit too spotty, in my opinion, but in general the flow and consistency of Disciples of the Unseen are very good. In an era when metal is desperately seeking a new take on melodic death metal to take it into the future, a band like Aeternam might just have what it takes to work us in that direction with work like Disciples of the Unseen.