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Album Reviews : Aeternam – Disciples of the Unseen

By on July 14, 2010

Disciples of the Unseen (2010) is the debut album from Canadian group Aeternam and the top-quality performance of their unique style of metal is a strong sign to keep an eye on these guys (and get a hold of their debut). The most distinctive quality to their music is the highly noticeable Middle Eastern influences. That’s right, Middle Eastern metal. Everything from the melodic guitar leads, tribal drumming and vocal harmonies reflects this influence, but certainly not in a way that is overpowering or annoying. If Aeternam had to be placed in a genre it would probably be melodic death metal; the frequent use of melodic guitar leads with keys and a strong baritone clean voice from frontman Achraf Loudiy all make that judgment relatively easy. However, with the pervasive use of acoustic guitars, sampling and such an unusual atmosphere to the music makes references to progressive metal almost unavoidable. That being said, attempting to categorise Aeternam’s sound is somewhat futile as they have a unique style that is comparable to very few other bands. Stylistically, comparisons to Nile are somewhat justified, though Aeternam have a much stronger focus on melody and composition than do the aforementioned tech death giants, making comparisons to Behemoth much more fitting, due largely to the strong vocal similarities and the style of pounding riffs coming from both bands.

The album opens with a short instrumental entitled “Ars Almadel” which gives a pretty good indication of what the album contains as a whole- Middle-Eastern sounding voices ringing over similarly styled strings and tribal drumming before a very interesting drum beat takes over in concert with a pounding guitar riff. This gives way to the speedy introduction to the deliciously heavy “Angel Horned” that manages to maintain the band’s distinctive oriental atmosphere without sacrificing an ounce of brutality, as does most of the album. All through the album crushing riffs, most of them on the fast end of the spectrum, combine with interesting guitar leads often leading into very impressive guitar solos that are at once shred-happy and melodic, showing these guys have the talent to back up their creativity. Loudiy’s vocals also have a good range to them, weaving between a low roar strongly reminiscent of Nergal from Behemoth to a very strong, soaring baritone clean which he puts to good use through most of the songs on the album. Indeed, one of the album’s highlights would be “The Coronation of Seth” which predominantly features clean vocals but is a very powerful song nonetheless with some awesome guitar soloing to cap it off.

There are not a lot of significant negative things to say about this album, but there are a few little things. The main problem is that occasionally, only occasionally, the group becomes a bit preoccupied with its Middle Eastern sounds and forgets about the metal. While that might be alright for short periods of time it’s a bit annoying when an entire track, in this case “Iteru”, is spent that way. However, this is not a huge issue, but the integration of their distinct styles is something that can be bettered in later releases

For anyone looking for something very different to hit the death metal scene, or metal in general, Aeternam are well worth a look as they have a very different take on these ideas but sacrifice very little in the way of quality metal in order to achieve it. 8/10

Band: Aeternam
Album: Disciples of the Unseen
Year: 2010
Genre: Melodic Death/Progressive Metal
Origin: Quebec, Canada
Label: Metal Blade/Riot!
http://www.myspace.com/aeternammetal

Track Listing:

  1. Ars Almadel
  2. Angel Horned
  3. Esoteric Formulae
  4. The Coronation of Seth <- Reviewer’s Choice
  5. Hamunaptra
  6. Iteru
  7. Goddess of Masr
  8. Ouroboros
  9. Circle in Flames
  10. Through the Eyes of Ea <- Reviewer’s Choice

About

Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.