Eternity’s End – Embers of War Review

A week ago, progressive/technical death metal titans Obscura released a well-received album that featured the return of longtime guitarist Christian Münzner. Münzner had left the band in 2014 after developing focal dystonia, an overuse condition that left his fretting hand neurologically compromised. Needing a break from the relentless touring cycle of a band like Obscura, Münzner turned to other projects. Recruiting former Obscura bandmates Linus Klausenitzer and Hannes Grossmann, Münzner formed Eternity’s End with the goal to produce high-quality progressive power metal. The band’s debut The Fire Within saw the light of day in 2016, and it absolutely floored me with its beautiful melodies and mind-blowing technicality. 2018 saw the release of Unyielding, an album that moved more towards speed metal and included new vocalist Iuri Sanson. It took me a while to appreciate the vocals and the new stylistic direction, but Unyielding eventually won me over and earned an honorable mention spot on my year-end list. Needless to say, the band’s third album, Embers of War, is one of my most-anticipated releases of the year.

2021 brought more lineup changes to the Eternity’s End camp. Gone are Phil Tougas, Mike Lepond, and Jimmy Pitts, the first two replaced by Justin Hombach and a returning Klausenitzer, with Münzner opting to handle keyboard duties himself. These changes have certainly impacted the sound on Embers of War. Where Unyielding felt like a power/speed metal album produced by a veritable pantheon of technical demigods, Embers of War is more direct. Citing albums like Painkiller, Iron Savior’s Unification, and Running Wild’s Masquerade as primary influences for this record, Münzner filled Embers of War with streamlined heavy metal tunes whose primary purpose is to kick your ass. Scroll down and hit play on the video for “Hounds of Tindalos” and bask in the glow of the classic Münzner intro riff before a Running Wild tremolo ear worm arrives on the horizon to pillage your mind.

With eight varied tracks that run for a perfect 45 minutes, Embers of War sets itself up perfectly for success. More aggressive tunes like “Hounds of Tindalos” and the masterful “Call of the Valkyries” are balanced out by traditional power metal songs like “Deathrider,” “Arcturus Prime,” and the Moorcock-inspired “Bane of My Black Sword.” “Shaded Heart” sounds like it might have come from the band’s debut era, its excellent riffing laying the foundation for some beautiful melodic leads and making way for a very Symphony X-ish jam session at the song’s midpoint. The SX comparison carries over into the epic title track, where it’s joined by some Blind Guardian theatricality. The song begins with a jagged thrash riff—a riff that reminds me of the amazing “The Fall of the House of Usher” that closed the band’s debut—before it takes off on a winding sci-fi journey complete with violent and serene passages alike.

It probably seems as if Embers of War is headed straight for my top 10 list, and it probably would be if it wasn’t for one complaint. When I heard the first single for Embers of War, Sanson’s voice sounded a bit strained, and while I was concerned, I was sure that after many listens of the full record, I’d be won over like I was with Unyielding. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case this time around. Sanson has a really nice tone and handles the lower-register stuff admirably, but when he goes for the high notes—of which there are a ton—his voice is thin and skews flat at times. It’s a shame that the album opens with “Dreadnought (The Voyage of the Damned)” because while it’s a damn fine metal track, it’s also the most egregious example of this vocal strain, and I’m willing to bet that some listeners won’t make it past the song. Don’t let that be you! The songwriting and guitar work on Embers of War are second to none, and it’s still a very good record, all things considered.

Complaints about the vocals aside, I’ve still listened to Embers of War over two dozen times, and I’m sure I’ll listen to it some more. Sure, if the vocals were stronger, it would easily garner a higher score and instantly feature on my top 10 list. But as it stands, Eternity’s End will have to settle for another honorable mention come year’s end. This is one killer band, and if they can fully stoke the fire within on future releases, the resulting conflagration will be a wonder to behold.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Prosthetic Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: November 26th, 2021

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