is another one of those bands that Nuclear Blast
promoted in the states, during the early two thousands. And
they subsequently enjoyed some commercial success for a while. Their two thousand seven release, In Sorte Diaboli
, rocked out pretty good. The songs were mostly composed of ominous grinding melodies. The keyboard music and angelic backup vocals were used sparingly. Then the keyboardist and bassist/backup vocalist soon departed from the band. Their twenty ten album, Abrahadabra
, didn’t rock out so good. Because a lot of the metal was overwhelmed with classical styled orchestra music. The backup vocals sounded like tabernacle choirs. It probably would have been a lot better with Mustis and IC Vortex
. During the eight year lapse of production, some of the band members had children and spent time with their families. This new release is entitled Eonian
, which means the everlasting. It comes in a cardboard digipack, with complicated artwork, which is open to interpretation. The centerfold of the booklet shows a black and white picture of the quintet. They wear gaudy hooded jackets, with elaborate corpse paint designs on their faces.
The first song, The Unveiling, starts with an industrial prelude and reverberating percussions. Then the stringed instruments roughly cut in and are followed by an uncanny keyboard melody. The flow soon changes back to industrial styled music and slashing stringed instrumentation. The keyboard music returns with warped sounding time changes and the drum beats become more aesthetic, with fluttering shuffle patterns. The vocals are grumbled out with a gruff voice. “Become through earned and granted liberation.” “Rise above the secrecy and silent deception.” But then about halfway in comes some piano music and a professional choir, which sounds like a dull opera. Grim vocals are Shagrath’s specialty and a cornerstone of the band’s identity. He roughly uses his throat, yet delivers with a refined quality. Sometimes he lowers his vocal strain to sound more diabolic, but usually growls at his mid range tone. The booklet credits twenty six people as choir singers. They sound very polished and collectively exhibit range from the lower to higher notes. But they sound so plain, predictable and impersonal.
The booklet credits both Shagrath and Gerlioz as performing the keyboard and orchestral arrangements. The album is variegated with cosmic keyboard music, using arcane time changes and a chilling ambience. It sounds as strange as a UFO
encounter. Sometimes the eerie keyboard music blends into the guitar leads, which can be hard to differentiate. The orchestra music is overly dramatic and professional, which sounds so bland and boring. Occasionally it comes through with a catchy groove, but not too often. The fourth track, Council of Wolves and Snakes, starts with a mysterious keyboard hook. The bassist sluggishly plucks some power chords and the drummer hesitantly strikes the bass drum. The lead guitarist intermittently plays a catchy riff, while the keyboard music mystically whines along. Shagrath ghoulishly utters out his lines, with an air of macabre. “Nomads plunging into the abyss.” “Unattached, fleeting through the chasm.” Then about halfway in, the bass and drums pick up with a more lively rhythm. The choir singers take over, like a lofty cathedral presentation. “We are gods for the taking.” “Yield to the dragon’s embrace.”
The seventh number, I Am Sovereign
, starts with some epic chopping rhythms, played at a slower tempo. The drummer vigorously plays with energetic beats, as the orchestra adds an Asian flair. The choir sings, “undo me”, which is complemented by Shagrath’s low growl. “And
feel no restraint.” Then the guitarist plays an intricate high note melody, as the bassist chugs out the lower notes. The grim vocals advance at an almost guttural, yet low toned growl. “Perseverance doesn’t mean anything.” “Unless it’s for eternity.” The pace picks up with a nostalgic mix of metal and coherent symphony music, like classic Dimmu Borgir
. Three different members are credited for playing the bass and two are acknowledged on the guitar. So it’s unclear who is playing what stringed instrument at any given moment. There is a touch of grinding or explosive riffs, which are used sparingly. Usually the guitar leads with carefree melodies, that are more ambient than aggressive. On occasion the bassist delivers some powerful rhythms with a commanding force. The stringed instruments aren’t always noticeable and often play an inconspicuous role to the orchestra.
The drummer, Daray, plays conservatively with shuffling beats and sometimes mixes it up with jazz styled snare rolls. He often beats along with just enough pizazz to accentuate the songs. There are times when the orchestra provides moving percussions, from classical drumming arrangements. It’s commonplace, when piano music intervenes over the drum play. The last offering, Rite
of Passage, is a five minute instrumental. It starts with delicate guitar notes and some calm piano bars, played at a slow tempo. Then ninety seconds later, the drum beats modestly kick in, along with some bland orchestra music. The pace picks up a couple of notches and the orchestra music breaks out with an overly dramatic performance. There are lots of woodwind instruments and gently played violins. The guitar music was very mellow and the boring orchestra dominated this song.
In Sorte Diaboli
reached number forty three and Abrahadabra
accomplished forty two, on the Billboard top 200 chart. And
only came up to one hundred forty two. These numbers could reflect a decline in their popularity. So what have they been doing through this eight year lapse of time? Some of the band members had children and spent time with their families. Eonian
has some of the best keyboard music in their catalog. The intergalactic performances sound awesome and the haunting melodies recur in a few tracks across the album. The lyrics deal with esoteric conceptions of the existence after death. Shagrath performed the grim vocals as good as he has done in the past. The choir vocals don’t offer the same personality and character, as a smaller group of back up vocalists could. Fast guitar grinding may appear for about a minute and then the orchestra music over powers it. The stringed instruments often rely on the symphonic music for the higher notes. The orchestra music is way too tame and used excessively. Less is more and they need to abandon the orchestra and professional choir.