AETERNUS is a band that I held in very high regard. But, admittedly this is mostly because of their first two full-lengths “Beyond The Wandering Moon” and “And So The Night Became…” that I consider two absolute masterpieces containing some of the best and most beautiful dark music ever; see my reviews of them. So upon receiving their latest album I both rejoiced and despaired. The joy came from the simple fact that getting a new record from a favorite band is always great, but I of course feared that this modern AETERNUS wouldn’t reach the grand level of old. My rather small knowledge of their recent album affirms this.
Because of this personal experience there is an undeniable urge for me to mainly compare this “Hexaeon” with their old opuses. Already with the opener are the changes obvious; no more grand atmospheric intros, but rather an annoying background distorted start/stop riff. The song that follows is good though albeit in a complete different fashion then their older works. No more walls of guitars and a much more Death Metal approach. It is an innovative and non-standard style of Death Metal though, which still saves the record. One thing AETERNUS has and always will be is dark; they’re called the premier Dark Metal band for a reason of course. The darkness on “Hexaeon” is conceived in a different way though, with some very technical yet atmospheric guitar riffs and leads. Luckily there also still plenty of songs that feature dark acoustic bits, not very epic, but dark nonetheless.
Of course Ares’ still has a mighty voice and he uses it in quite some different ways. Still mainly a deep growl, but it’s more aggressive and not so stretched anymore. There are also many instances in which he uses a more clear almost spoken style of vocals, but again there are some good effects to make sure it fits the atmosphere.
As I feared I don’t like the modern AETERNUS sound as much as their old but it still is enjoyable listening. The musicianship is probably better then ever before with lots of variety in the drum work, great guitar riffs with peculiar, almost NILE-like melodies and strong vocals, with the finishing touch being the rare effects being used. Too bad the overall atmosphere suffers from it; a good album, very recommendable for fans of modern AETRNUS as well as fans of technical yet dark Death Metal. I personally will always hail their oldest work as their best.
One last thing regarding their drummer Erik: in February he announced he would leave the band, a sad fact as his drumming has been fine in the mid 90’s and still is today. Hence “Hexaeon” is his final performance with AETERNUS but I will always regard him as a brilliant drummer, pity he has left… (Online May 3, 2006)