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Dark Sorcery

Aeternus - Dark Sorcery ©1995 Hammerheart
1. Black Dust
2. Victory
3. Raven And Blood
4. Nordlys
5. In The Darkest Circles Of Time

Aeternus may very well be one of Norway's best kept secrets. Although founding member Ares has some connections with Immortal as a session player, his main band has seemingly escaped the attention receieved by other more notorious outfits from the area. Perhaps concentrating on playing good music and not actively creating a cult legend through outrageous press releases isn't enough to capture the attention of black metal fans.

Dark Sorcery was the debut EP for Aeternus in 1995 and was rereleased by their current label, Hammerheart, in 1997 with a bonus track and new artwork. The CD aptly captures the band's musical agenda and immediately sets them entirely apart from other metal bands in Norway. Their sound is a slow, thunderingly heavy sound that somehow offers a canyon's worth of depth and an unmistakeably monumental, epic feel to each song. Think of Bathory's Twilight of the Gods and then try to imagine it as being fifty times heavier and much more monolithic. Exceptionally heavy, low-toned guitars are mixed with subtle acoustic rhythms overtop the trudging rhythms, while Ares offers a low, gutteral but not cookie monster styled vocal approach. There is a certain "march off to war" feel to some of these songs, while others simply excel at being epic in nature.

Dark Sorcery is indeed a holistic form of doom metal that never quite sounds like anyone else. Highly recommended to anyone looking for a much darker and insidious form of extreme Norwegian metal.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2001

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Beyond The Wandering Moon

Aeternus - Beyond The Wandering Moon ©1997 Hammerheart
1. Under The Blade Of The Dead
2. Sworn Revenge
3. White Realm
4. Sentinels Of Darkness
5. Embraced
6. Vind
7. Waiting For The Storms
8. Winter Tale
9. To Enter The Realm Of Legend
10. Celtic Harp Solo (the Last Feast)

Oh, those heavy, doomy Norwegians! Not sure if they're a doom, black or death metal band, Aeternus decided to be all three at once with their 1997 release, Beyond the Wandering Moon. And believe it or not, the album works for the most part, offering a dense wall of gloomy sound that contains just enough of the unholy trinity of extreme metal to keep it interesting enough to warrant more than a random listen. The three piece uses a very thick production, giving the rhythm guitar parts a fuzzy backdrop with a subtle rhythm section keeping things in check with secondary, slowly developing melodies swishing through the quagmire. The vocals are a low, echoing, ominous thing that are mixed far enough back to add mysticism and not grate on the ear. The songs range in tempo from slow, brooding types to a bit more of an aggressive assault with very few cliche rhythm tricks, such as unwarranted blastbeats. Their sense of understated melody actually works in their favor, such as the gooey, delicious warmth of "Sentinels of Darkness". That's the type of song, over the course of its nearly eight minute run, you find yourself bobbing along to in a most merry fashion. The one aspect of this record I do find daunting is that the ten songs do run on and on after awhile and you get the point by the seventh track or so. Regardless, Aeternus does offer a palatable and competent doom hybrid with Beyond the Wandering Moon and serves as a good piece of extraneous music to flesh out my collection.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2001

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And So The Night Became...

Aeternus - And So The Night Became... ©1998 Hammerheart
CD one:
1. There's No Wine Like The Bloods Crimson
2. As I March
3. Warrior Of The Crescent Moon
4. Blodsverging
5. When The Crows Shadow Falls
6. Ild Dans
7. ...And So The Night Became
8. Fyrndeheimen
CD two:
9. Dark Rage
10. Fire And Wind
11. In The Darkest Circles Of Time

...And so the rumbling continues. Continuing essentially right where they left off with Beyond the Wandering Moon, And So the Night Became... is a subtle step forward for this excellent Norwegian trio. Still balancing a line between melodies that excel and a deep, heavy brutality, Aeternus does nothing more than work within the boundaries of their previous works while adding slight enhancements.

And So the Night Became... comes across as a rolling, epic work that thunders and flows from beginning to end. The production is outstanding on this work, allowing the heaviness to seep through all while giving the instruments some clarity. The vocals, as always, are faded a touch back in the mix and given a crazy amount of reverb to create this echoing plateau of sound. The songs tend to be somewhat interchangeable, but have distinctions between the pieces. However, the sum of the parts equals an album that is cohesive and strong from beginning to end. It's the kind of album that you want to put on while on a long drive and simply lose yourself in from beginning to end. While the band does occasionally include some of the more maudlin special effects that often go hand in hand with so-called dark music, they are done tastefully and fleetingly enough that most won't notice. The melodies within the guitars are still better than many bands can ever create and because the band doesn't resort to mindless brutality, the music flows.

For collectors, one can get this album in several different formats. It has seen release in a regular jewel case, an elaborate foldout digipack (which is really awful if you happen to be changing discs in your car on that roadtrip I suggested), or a double CD which has a "bonus tour edition" three song disc. No matter what the format, this is a great album that hides between black and death metal within its own realm.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date:

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Shadows Of Old

Aeternus - Shadows Of Old ©1999 Hammerheart
1. Under The Eternal Blackened Sky
2. Descent To The Underworld
3. Dark Rage
4. Resurrection
5. The Summoning Of Shadows
6. Death's Golden Truth Revealed
7. Cuchulain
8. Prophecy Of The Elder Reign
9. The Sunset's Glory

Within the first few seconds of "Under the Eternal Blackened Sky", you can hear the unmistakeable sound of a band losing their way. For one EP and two excellent full lengths, Norway's finest atmospheric doom/gray metal band captivated these ears with an echoing, ominous and pensive rumble that truly set them apart from all their peers. Then, for whatever reason, the trio felt the urge to make their music more "brutal" and heavier. Unfortunately, this move also took away almost everything that made them unique and enjoyable.

Whereas the early releases let the music grow and breathe in very spacious arrangements, thus maximizing the amount of epic flavor, Shadows of Old discards that approach. There are moments where they hint at it with slower passages, but for the most part the band buries their excellence under faster rhythms and an emphasis on a more brutal death metal sound. As a result, grumpier listeners such as myself roll the eyes and wonder what makes a perfectly good band think they need to compete with their lesser peers. Although the members of Aeternus are fine songwriters, much of what is presented here sounds rushed. Some of the elements of previous, better releases still exist, but in wrong amounts for the recipe. The result is an album that is dense, clustered and frankly, uninteresting.

It's a darned shame when a talented band decides to travel down the wrong path or one that has been treaded upon by many lesser acts. Aeternus was incredible with a fairly basic premise, but make themselves generic by trying to play faster than their music should allow.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2003

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