Formed in 1993 AETERNUS are the self-proclaimed creators of Dark Metal, a genre best described as a union of Death and Black Metal. So, they've been around for a long time already and released a bunch of albums in that time with this being their sixth and the first of three for a new label.
The platter starts out very nicely with a fast paced brutal Death assault that more than once brings BEHEMOTH to my mind. The guitars let out some cool riffs but nothing really impressing. Erik the drummer beats his set furiously but with expertise. Starting to look very promising. Onwards to the second song…The drums, again, are worth of a mention here but whereas the vocals were the basic grunts on the starter Ares decides to use some distorted vocals here and frankly that's just unnecessary and annoying. Rather frustrating, because the alternative vocals degrades a potentially very decent track. Oh well, on to "Litany Of Ra" which again starts out very promisingly with the drums blasting away. Luckily Ares sticks to the grunts though he lets out a few Black Metal screams. While the guitars aren't very amazing they get the job done, although I really enjoyed the passage with just the guitars and the pounding drums. My head started to move up and down out of reflex on that one. But the best is yet to come, the end of the song is played with nothing but a piano, yes! The sudden drop from brutality to serenity is in every way a good thing in my book. Without warning the fourth killer sounds off with Erik beating the crap out of the drums once again. The guitar work makes this sound a bit like VADER and the already mentioned BEHEMOTH. Ares alternates his voice a bit again, using some screams along with his basic grunting. The song also contains some NILE-isms with some melodies and the chanting in the end.
OK, by now you've already grasped the idea of what this music is all about so there's no need to go through the other five songs. They basically go down the same line as the first four and some of them are better than the others but there isn't a really bad song here. The album's biggest weakness is that the songs are made out of the same mould. Only "Litany Of Ra" and "Sons Of War" differ very nicely from the pack and, alas, they too only in some parts. Oh and Ares uses some distorted vocals on the latter so that's not much of a help either.
A little bit more variety rather than trying to squash the listener with heaviness would have made the experience a lot more enjoyable. But now it's like going through a dense, moist rain forest all the while sweating bullets. Needless to say that is not a good thing. But it's not all bad either. Especially the first half contains some very good Death Metal before getting somewhat boring in the second half. The drums are really great throughout the CD and the guitars churn out some very nice riffs here and there. But in the end it's a matter of personal preferences. If you want music you really have to listen to go pick an OPETH album, but if you want a simple headbanging frenzy this CD is a good contender. Furthermore, if you haven't already acquainted yourself with this established act, "A Darker Monument" is an excellent choice to correct that mistake. (Online July 18, 2003)