Aeternus // …and the Seventh His Soul Detesteth
Rating: 2.0/5.0 — …and the album became another let down
Label: Dark Essence Records
Websites: myspace.com/aeternusnor | facebook.com/Aeternusofficial
Release Dates: Out now!
Over the course of their career, Aeternus have taken me on a sonic ride full of dizzying highs, crushing lows and Milquetoast middles. Their highly acclaimed Beyond the Wandering Moon opus is a truly special album with an atmosphere and mood all its own and I find myself going back to it regularly over time. Their unusual blend of Norwegian black metal and symphonic death came to be known as “dark metal” and that summed up their original sound rather nicely. Featuring a former member of Gorgoroth, they mingled beautifully hypnotic orchestration with Behemoth levels of brutality to create a unique and enthralling experience. They followed it up with the amazing …and So the Night Became, which had oodles of memorable moments and brilliant ideas amidst the swirling chaos and havoc. Verily, Aeternus seemed poised to become the next big player in extreme metal, much as Amorphis had before them. Then something inexplicable happened and they lost their dark metal mojo, dropping much of their stylized symphonics in favor of a more blunt death metal approach. Thereafter they released a series of average to pedestrian death albums which stood in stark contrast to their former masterworks and for the most part, bored me silly. I longed for a return to their glory days of yore, but as time went by, it seemed less and less likely that would happen. …and the Seventh His Soul Detesteth (they like that “…and” thing) comes after a lengthy layoff following 2007s HeXaeon, and yes, I was hoping for Beyond the Wandering Moon II or at the very least, …and Here’s Some Old Style Stuff. Instead they deliver another dud that strives to bridge death, black and mildly progressive metal, but falls short at almost every turn. Though fleeting nods to Nile, Opeth and Behemoth can be heard and interesting moments do arise, the bulk of the songs are flat-out boring and dull with painfully monotonous riffing and stale ideas. In short, it’s another crushing low.
What makes the disappointment even more galling is that opener “There Will Be None” sounds like a return to their classic era in some ways and it got my steely hopes up. It starts with Behemoth style pummeling death and blasts, but eventually weaves in shades of early Dimmu Borgir via the riff phrasing. I especially love the “witches dancing around the midnight bonfire” vibe given off by the blackened riffs at 2:17. Even the oddly jazz club-y guitar solo at 4:05 works and feels inspired. Sadly, this is as good as it gets and things go downhill quickly.
The rest of album is a frustrating mish-mash of good moments tacked onto bland songs. The title track is a low-tech, mid-tempo grinder with little to offer beyond an odd, harmonic solo at 3:22. “Spurcities” features listless death metal and throwaway riffs, but at the halfway point it introduces interesting Middle Eastern flavors, charming acoustic interludes and creepy ritual-like chanting. As nice as these segments are, the song as a whole is a disjointed mess which drags at several points as you wait for the next interesting concept. Likewise, “Saligia” jumps from boring death riffing into poignant, folksy acoustics similar to what you would find on a SIG:AR:TYR album. While I love that stuff, the song around it is rather pointless and lacking interest.
Other songs are just dull across the boards, like “Ruin and Resurrect,” and “Reap What You Saw” (betcha Sodom wishes they thought up that title). Each is bogged down by monotonous, chuggy riffing and directionless writing. Even a slightly better track like “The Hand That Severs the Bonds of Creation” is noteworthy primarily due to the cool acoustic segment tacked on randomly near the end.
These interesting acoustic segments usually seem disconnected from the song they appear within, as if they were added late in the recording process in an effort to sound more progressive or something. There’s no flow whatsoever, they just pop up. It’s either lazy writing or Aeternus is going for something that’s inherently lost on my ears.
Sole original member Ares still has a convincing death roar and his baritone chants and creepy mumbling are always effective tools. He and Specter manage some interesting riffs here and there, but far too often they fall back on simplistic and boring chug riffs and rely on them to carry big chunks of songs. This kills most of the material and leaves the listener waiting for the next out-of-the-blue acoustic eruption. However, they get high marks for the solos, which are usually fun, entertaining and interestingly quirky.
I get that Aeternus was going for an amalgam of black and death with some off-the-cuff elements, but that’s already been done a million times better by Helrunar (which I highly recommend). Skip this and go hunt down their first two albums. You won’t be sorry. If you buy this, you likely will be. …and so Steel Druhm became further disenchanted with Aeternus.