Aeternus – Heathen
Label: Dark Essence Records
Aeternus always somewhat stayed in the shadows on the second wave of the Black Metal movement, despite being from Bergen, Norway, the very heart of the Black Metal movement in the early and mid-nineties.
The band was formed in 1993 and its early style was quite interesting although being a black metal band in structure: Ares low growls, Morrigan on bass which is possibly one of the first female bass players in such a genre and Viking influences stood them apart from the rest of the bands at the time. Despite Aeternus was not that much in the dark spotlight, it did not stopped Ares to play with other native heavy hitters like Gorgoroth and Immortal.
Aeternuses sound progressed from album to album, with “Shadows of Old” and “Ascension of Terror” showcased bands paving the way into death metal territory with few flirts of their old sound.
Such is the case with their new album “Heathen”. While their previous album “…And the Seventh his Soul Detesteth” very much felt like a sequel to the “Ascension of Terror”, this feels like a nod to their first two classics albums “Beyond The Wandering Moon” and… And so the “Night Became” but with better production. Actually, this is the best sounding album Aeternus had ever recorded so far. Sound of “…And the Seventh his Soul Detesteth” feels so damn thin comparing to “Heathen”, but that unfortunately just one of few positives that I can find for this album.
The album by its style relies more on the atmosphere, pretty much a polar opposite to the previous ones but with such progressive angle Areses trademark low guttural vocals stands out as a sore thumb most of the times and usually kills the whole vibe of the songs.
There are as well faster tracks on the album but they usually do feel like fillers and that’s not a good thing when you have only seven songs in the album. But some well-written songs “Boudica” (best track of the album easily), “‘Illa Mayyit” or “Hedning” it does provide a very solid listen.
While with “Seventh his Soul Detesteth” felt like Aeternus was revitalized, “Heathen” album unfortunately falls in the same category with the albums like “A Darker Monument and HeXaeon”: there’s a good album in there, but it needed a several tweaks in the songwriting and better ideas.