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Aeternus - Philosopher review

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Band: Aeternus
Album: Philosopher
Release date: November 2023

01. Existentialist Hunter
02. World Bleak Nepotism
03. The Intentionality Of Unmitigated Evil
04. Void Of Venom
05. Wresting Worm
06. The Luciferian Architect
07. Carving The Pristine Anomie

Did you know blackened death also has a softer, more melodic side? Yes it's true, Aeternus even introduce elements of folk to this brutal subgenre, as this is their philosophy.

There's not many names in the blackened death metal scene that you could say are as accomplished as the Norwegians Aeternus. The band's debut Beyond The Wandering Moon (1997), as well as their sophomore ...And So The Night Became (1998), significantly contributed towards the band's pioneering role in the development of th blackened death subgenre, along with the likes of Behemoth from Poland. Marking their 30th anniversary, the band have now released their eighth full album, Philosopher, on which sole remaining founding member and vocalist/guitarist Ares (Ronny Brandt Hovland, also known for his brief spell as bassist in Gorgoroth during the 90s) is joined by Phobos (drums), Eld (bass) and Gorm (guitars).

Beginning with the sound of thunder is the opening track "Existentialist Hunter". With its traditional black mid-tempo tremolo riffs, furious blast beats mixeed with slower rhythmic drumming, heavy death growls, anda great solo towards the end, it sets the tone for what's in store ahead. The song doesn't contain anything out of the ordinary for what Aeternus have written in the past, but what stands out is a softer interlude section, which features haunting spoken word before suddenly erupting back into muscular blackened death riffing. The following track, "World Bleak Nepotism", features a slightly more up-tempo approach; the leads and tremolo riffs here are highly melodic, and the drums have a strong sound and presence, but it's Eld's bass work on several occasions that stands out most of all. The bass is striking once more on the track "The Intentionality of Unitigated Evil", on which galloping folkish riff melodies also see the band venture into the realms of blackened folk. Several short acoustic intervals are featured in this track to slow the tempo down before continuing the entrancing melodic tremolo surges.

The use of acoustic sections is continued into the next track, "Void Of Venom", which starts off with an eerily haunting and beautifully constructed acoustic duet passage, before unleashing furious tremolos and frenzied blast beats. "The Luciferian Architect", at just shy of 7 minutes, is the album's longest track, and also one of the most memorable, due to its hypnotic galloping rhythm, impressive intertwining melodic guitar work, and skilful rhythm section. The final track "Carving The Pristine Anomie" provides further evidence of the band's softer side, beginning with another well performed acoustic passage, but this final track is also perhaps the album's most complex structurally, showing elements of death, traditional black, and even glimpses of their folkish side. This is far from your ordinary blackened death record; it's sophisticated and rich in melody, something that Aeternus have always had a real knack for.

Overall, Philosopher is a fine effort for Aeternus on the grand scale; it's certainly not short of memorable riff melodies, striking solos, or all-round impressive instrumentation. However, there are a few drawbacks. The first for me would be the production; there are several elements that tend to overpower others in the mix, the vocals chief among them. The vocals themselves, while not bad by any means, do lack a certain spark; over time, the harsh death growls start to become too dry and one-dimensional. The third issue I have (even if ever so slightly) is how certain songs abruptly end in silence. I find several occasions where the tracks feel like they're just starting to build up a strong momentum, only for them to suddenly end with silence; this only gives me the impression that there could have been more.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Production: 6

Written on 22.11.2023 by Feel free to share your views.


Comments: 1   Visited by: 11 users
03.12.2023 - 12:35
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Rare band, has no equal sounding bans, so known and so good composers
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''
I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing

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