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Album Reviews : Eternum – Alone But For The Breath Of Beasts

By on November 7, 2020

Steve Hughes, the renowned comedian and trailblazer of Australian metal, has unleashed his first new music in twenty-two years. Hughes has made a resounding name for himself on the comedy beat, but as we are aware, he also has a noteworthy record in extreme metal, beginning with the very dawn of the genre in Australia as the drummer of Slaughter Lord in 1982.

This was followed by his touring escapades with iconic Australian metal act Mortal Sin at the turn of the decade, and the creation of mysterious black metal outfit Naxzul in the early 90s. After moving abroad, Hughes was the live drummer for Irish extreme metallers Primordial in 1999, from which point his comedy career took the front seat. Until now. Alone But For The Breath Of Beasts is a strange creature of an EP, but one that is wholly its own dragon, borne of a highly intelligent creator. It is musically quite varied, ranging from slower-paced and sinister to heavy rocking energy. It’s one the sneaks up on you, gradually immersing you as the tracks progress, revealing more at each listen, lingering on your mind.

And who better to critique the new world order through extreme metal than Steve Hughes? Perhaps obviously, Hughes’ metal is lyrically-driven, and brilliantly so, as one expects from Hughes. The themes of each of these six tracks are well-defined, generally falling in the overarching highly-politicised vibe of the ills of the world. This is apparent from the opening track Beyond What You See, which is a conceptually sophisticated challenge to cabalistic power, with an appropriately blackened-edge to the steady pace sound and some venomous solos. The topics are diverse. For example, issues such the Gulf War are dealt a serving in the over-twenty-minute number High On Fire, on which topic Hughes clearly has a lot to say. Despite its length, High On Fire is well structured, with an anthemic chorus and clear vocalisation, and quite listenable if a bit long-winded. But then, who are we to cut Hughes short, right?

Hughes’ take on some mainstay topics such as the toxic nature of monotheism and corrupt leadership and media are very welcome in Jesus Serpent Blood and In Lies We Trust. Jesus Serpent Blood is another thirty-two-minute epic, showcasing Hughes’ black metal vocals, premium lyrics, and screaming solos that dance over immersive, discordant riffs. Although extremely long, this track is a thorough working of this common theme and possibly one of the most vicious and comprehensive thereof. In Lies We Trust is a different, eerie, and frankly unnerving spoken-lyric track. Hypnotically profound…and suggestively satanic.

Hughes has an intoxicating voice and he uses it to full effect on In Lies We Trust. Hughes tips his hat to the greats of old school metal in the banger Hail The Gods, and the solos are pretty wild in this one. While jumping around conceptually, it all works as a whole, given it’s an expression of Hughes’ vast and complex mind. This is brought to its culmination in the final track Inverted Reason, a scathing ten-minute ode to the bleak chaos of 2020.

Above all, Alone But For The Breath Of Beasts is a serious EP; those expecting tongue-in-cheek, sarcasm, or comedy or even Dethklok-esque styling won’t find it here. There isn’t a sense of humour about any of the tracks. Nor should there be. Hughes uses the medium of blackened-extreme-metal to convey his sentiments on pertinent issues in a way that comedy isn’t designed for. Musically, it’s well-crafted; dark, sinister, and angry, and does exactly what the genre is meant to do: be the grim voice of critique in a world gone mad.

Band: Eternum
Album: Alone But For The Breath Of Beasts
Year: 2020
Genre: Heavy Metal
Label: Dinner For Wolves
Origin: Australia
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