AETERNUS are a band that, back in their early days, were definitely one of those up-an-coming groups that were making a pretty good name for themselves in the underground. It didn't hurt the fact of the notion that they managed even in their demo days that they simply stood out from most of the goofy panda-faced pack of extreme Scandinavian Metal imitators. Even though AETERNUS have all the necessary and right Black Metal influences and roots, they were simply much more than that and they were onto a genre of music that is to this day hard to define: Dark Metal.
Dark Metal is one of those many sub-genre names you always hear: Viking Metal, Celtic Metal, Avant-garde Metal, etc. It's one of those names that are too broad to classify seeing how in reality so many bands carry the same traits as far as influences, lyrical themes. I mean, what makes a band such as AMON AMARTH any different from MORBID ANGEL, other than they are at polar opposites of nature's elements (fire and ice, go figure!) and one talks about Vikings? They both still play Death Metal. So what could be Dark Metal described as? Well, it's extreme. That's a start. It's easily Black and Death Metal, but it also includes Doom and Folk influences. Now I know some person is going to read this and disagree or say "You're so full of shit"...but then again you can go ahead and write your own damn review and give YOUR definition.
Back to the topic: AETERNUS is easily as Black and Death Metal, but they are also as easily influenced by Doom and Folk at the same time perfecting a very heavy and just dark sound. It's the kind of sound that evokes a feel of pure dread when alone. Crawling in a fetus position in a jail cell while being in an extreme state of schizophrenia or alone in the middle of the black forests of Maryland and hearing wild dogs howl in the dead of night. It's not depressing or melodramatic, it's just a heavy state of dread and fear mixed into one another. It's crushing in every sense.
"Dark Sorcery" opens up with the song "Black Dust" which has vocalist Ares showing his great evil-sounding deep vocals off with the lines "human dreams - such a fruitful place to plant the seeds of terror." The song itself is very haunting. Imagine old-school BATHORY mixed in with a thicker and echo-y Doom Metal sound/influence. There is a fuzz the guitars give off, but it adds to the thick wall of darkness the band manages to pull off. It's a very emotional piece that when I first listened to it, I imagine the simplistic idea of a child afraid of falling asleep at night because the boogeyman might get him. Mixed in with the sound of church bells, wolves, and evil-sounding monsters, again it evokes images of all your childhood fears come to life. For an opening track, it already sets the tone for the rest to follow. "Victory" opens up with Ares howling inhumanly, as if in pain. This song is more mid-tempo with some quick double bass rolls and is catchy. "Raven and Blood" could have easily been written by AMON AMARTH. Oh yeah this one has those epic fucking Swedish Metal riffs that goes back and forth between both Swedish Death and Black Metal, which always amazes me because AETERNUS are Norwegian. I'm not a rocket scientist on just how different Norwegian Metal and Swedish Metal and probably couldn't provide you with a definite answer, but AETERNUS nails it with their sound. "Nordlys" is an amazing, beautiful acoustic piece with a medieval Celtic touch to it that makes you remember times of yore with huge beer mugs and wenches with their bosoms delivering them to you. The extra track "In the Darkest Circles of Time" takes "Raven and Blood" and ups the evil mixture of Swedish Black/Death Metal riffs and puts them to a war-like marching beat that ends with a crushing double-bass bridge with Ares growling the song's title.
Last thing I forgot to mention is how this band put out some really good albums even after this. Although shortly after their second album "...and So the Night Became", they put out one more album with their original and best line-up which consisted of Ares on vocals/guitars, Morrigan on bass, and Vrolok on drums, they completely lost track and tried to sound too much like ZYKLON/MORBID ANGEL in my opinion. It sucks because up to their second album AETERNUS was just a damn good band. Oh well. I still remember the day I actually found "Dark Sorcery" in the local record store and then taking it home and being blown away by the sound and everything. Also if you managed to come across a copy of this, make sure it's the 1999 Hammerheart re-issue. It's worth it. It's definitely one of the handful of albums I constantly go back to and tell people about.
(Online July 24, 2012)