A difficult review; to put the extreme brilliance of this album into words is next to impossible except if you want to browse the dictionary in search for more and more superlatives. This is an album that I cannot listen to at all times; sometimes it is too beautiful and the time just isn't right for it. However when I do feel like listening to it I am treated by one of the greatest pieces of music ever. AETERNUS plays Dark Metal; which is here in essence Black Metal with a deep Death growl. Not like the typical Black Metal. But, for sure, Dark Metal is the best way to describe their music, because if you would limit yourself to one word in describing "Beyond The Wandering Moon", it would be dark without a doubt!
The brilliance shows itself already when one looks at the magnificent artwork; a beautiful undulating forest at night, with the moon shining behind the hills. Artwork, album title and music fit together here perfectly! Now on to the music; AETERNUS have chosen to open this album with the finest intro in metal music, the almightily beautiful and suspenseful piano part called "Under The Blade Of The Dead" of which Chopin could be jealous of. As the delicate tones of the piano fade away, "Sworn Revenge" takes over. The sound is heavily distorted, you hear a deep rumbling guitar and after a few seconds there is this mighty aggressive drum beat. Then the song itself starts, with great emotional, melancholic and dark guitar riffs, high speed drumming and the incredible dark growl of Ares. Between the dark melancholic violence, there are more delicate guitar parts, or sometimes an intricate melodic bass line.
"White Realm" blasts away from the start as well and has a guitar riff that is really fast and epic, with the distorted sound layer on top of it, an excellent way to convey the emotions. Drummer Erik, I must say, is impressive throughout the album. Where sometimes the drums in Black Metal can be predictable and always sounding the same; Erik adds a lot of creativity to the high speed drums, with lots of fills and good rhythms. Towards the end of this song there is another fantastic piano part, this time perfectly woven through the rest of the sound. "Sentinels Of Darkness" has the typical sound of the album mixed with some more prominent guitar leads, while playing at a slower pace. The whole atmosphere is absolutely enchanting.
"Embrace" picks up the pace again; with another first class epic riff and blastbeats, here as well are some more delicate parts to be found. But they are not obvious, they are veiled underneath the layer of distortion and basically the huge wall of sound, this wall is often penetrated by the delicate tones of second guitar or bass parts. This creates an aesthetic that requires full attention from the listener as he is divulged by the music and wanders through the sound scape and the landscapes summoned in his head. "Vind" is again a little slower, but still pretty fast; and in the distance you can hear the storm start. After that Ares seems like singing a duet on his own; changing his deep growl with a shrieky growl all the time. The song closes with some rare moments of relative silence as the northern storm fades away.
As usual the following song "Waiting For The Storm" starts of at high speed again. More epic grandeur can be witnessed in the riffs, so beautiful, so dark and so northern sounding it can bring tears to my eyes. And while I call them epic, it should not be mistaken that they are Black Metal to the core. Furthermore it is just another typical AETERNUS track for the album, a perfect part of the rest. Acoustic tones start off the "Wintertale", one of the slowest songs on "Beyond The Wandering Moon". The warm bass lines are more upfront because of the slower speed and hence a less "wall of sound" effect. The last heavy part of AETERNUS' journey consists of "To Enter The Realm Of Legend". It consists of all that the band has to offer on this masterpiece in its best fashion, albeit with a less epic touch and more time breaks. Keyboards are present here too, enhancing the dark sound and not taking anything away from the heaviness.
As the last distorted guitars fade away with the keyboards a campfire starts to burn and it marks the beginning of the successful attempt of AETERNUS to create an outro of the same quality as its opener. All the noise is gone and what’s left are the emotional and extremely beautiful sounds of the seminal "Celtic Harp Solo", also referred to as "The Last Feast". It is a few minutes of pure Celtic bliss, definitely up to par with the rest of the music and perhaps the best part of the record. Now that all sound has stopped the listener should wonder what fantastic journey he has just witnessed; a journey through dark Nordic landscapes, where no light will ever be witnessed...
A true musical masterpiece, simply perfect and a must have for all fans of dark music, with epic touches and delicate undertones. But beware, it might take some time before you encompass the complete beauty of this work! (Online June 28, 2005)