Last week I reviewed an album called Eternal Rituals for the Accretion of Light. This week, my album of choice is called Eternal Hayden. Both albums are post-metal. Both bands — Junius and PH — have done trilogies of albums, and these Eternal albums are their fourth. I feel like it’s Groundhog Day here, but what I’ve described above is where the similarities end. PH are the artists formerly known as Mr. Peter Hayden, a group of Finnish fellows who have incorporated a veritable plethora of styles in their previous outings: post-metal, prog elements, drone, ambient, and doom. With ingredients like that, the final outcome of the recipe can be hit or miss. Which will it be here on Eternal Hayden?
As one might expect from the above genre list, the first track is a lumbering, lengthy, drawn out piece. “Looking Back at Mr. Peter Hayden” does just that over a span of seventeen minutes: it serves as a recap of the band’s history, giving us sounds and arrangements that are familiar to the band’s fans. Seventeen minutes is nearly as long as Eternal Hayden’s other four tracks combined, and the song’s length does it no favors, mostly because, as can happen when you combine drone, doom, and post-metal, it’s not always completely engaging. At no point in the song was I waiting for it to be over, but I’ve been listening to it for four weeks now and still can’t pick out any notable sections.
Each song segues directly into the next, in effect making this five-song album a single 37-minute song comprised of five movements. “We Fly High,” “Reach,” and “Higher” all follow in the familiar footsteps of the opening track, albeit in a fraction of the time. The changeup, and a marginal one at that, comes in the form of the closing track, “Rock and Roll Future,” which seems to symbolize the band moving forward into their next incarnation — although that incarnation isn’t remotely rock and roll. The track doesn’t differ drastically from the four before: it’s slightly faster, more dreamy post-metal and less drone, but like the others the arrangement is such that the song starts, plays for a while, and ends. Aside from an increase in buzzing noise as the end of the song approaches, “Rock and Roll Future” meanders as aimlessly as its predecessors, just to a slightly different beat.
Musically and production-wise, though, it’s hard to find fault with PH’s output. Listen to any two-minute section of any song on the album, and you will come away with an impression of lush epicness, of a band that has found its hypnotic groove and refuses to deviate. All the instruments are presented in such a manner that you’ll feel as though you’re on a long-distance interstellar journey. In other words, Eternal Hayden is much like listening to the score to a movie like 2001: A Space Odyssey. Synth waves writhe their way throughout ponderous drums and undulating guitars, and what vocals exist are all run through a vocoder, which of course is cool. Taken as a point in time it’s an alluring combination, but spread over the course of the entire album the problem is obvious: Eternal Hayden fails to fully engage the listener despite the meritorious ingredients.
That being said, there’s enough here to at least warrant a listen, especially for fans of the band’s original incarnation. Suffice it to say that if meandering doomy post-metal that drones on with lush vibrancy but doesn’t lure the listener in is your thing, grab Eternal Hayden. But if you need to feel emotionally invested in your albums of choice, there’s a lot more engaging stuff out there to be had.