Released: Feb , Independant
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Hailing from Quebec, where most of the population apparently speak French, and describing themselves as Ethnic Symphonic Metal, and also Epic Death Metal, we have Aeternum bringing us this, their third release, Ruins of Empires. It would be easy to be confused by the two musical descriptions, but rest assured when this album is over you will grasp both concepts, and either think this is pure creative genius, or a load of waffle. I will give you my opinion and leave the rest up to you to find out!
Opening track Damascus Gate opens the gates of antiquity for us, sounding for all the world like someone decided to add a bit of Metal to the Gladiator soundtrack - not a bad thing at all before ripping in with some solid guitar and drum work. maybe a little on the Amon Amarth side of things but kept original with the liberal use of melody, and that's one thing this band is very big on - melody, glorious melody in all its forms. Actually having said that a lot of the melody is of the ethnic variety so you will very soon pick up on one of the self descriptions the band have put out there. A catchy chantey chorus rounds this one out well, a very solid piece to introduce themselves with.
Following on are Paropamisadae, a meaty little number with a fantastic mid section riff fest, and Sun Shield, slowing things down a little and bringing back the Gladiator feels with a mix of frantic drumming over some lovely acoustic guitar before letting loose the hounds as it where, becoming very much like a song from a distant age as it progresses, managing to stay both heavy and somehow ancient at the same time. Vocally the mix between gruff growling and angelic harmonies really mix this one up - although that can be said about a lot of songs on this album as it continues.
The Keeper of Shangri-La brings with it the sounds of ancient Tibet, beautiful instruments all playing in perfect peaceful harmony, followed by clean vocals invoking images of epic tales filled with love, loss, happiness and sorrow. This is about as folky as it gets people. A reminder of just how talented these musicians truly are. Fallen is the Simulacrum of Bel brings back the heavy, and from here on this is pretty much how the album continues, mixing heavy with ancient melody as it progresses.
Colossus hits the mid pace with more glorious harmonies both vocally and instrumentally, before Nightfall on Numidia once again reminds me of a certain film, and boy what a beautiful song this one is. If Hans Zimmer even wanted to broaden his horizons and branch out into the metal world these guys would have to be a shoe in for a collaboration. Bring it on I say.
Praetor Of Mercury would have to be the heaviest piece on this album, thumping along at a cracking pace, probably the closest thing to straight out Death Metal you will get on this album, but still rightly containing the whole feel of the album through the occasional harmony - Epic Death Metal seems to fit nicely. Last but certainly not least Zadyin Arga returns us to the Symphonic, A fitting end to the album, containing pretty much every element of the all that makes this album a special one.
Overall a great album, and do not let the references to a certain film dissuade you from having a listen, as that is my opinion only (although I happen to also love that movie ha-ha), and I'm sure that by the end of it you will embrace whatever description the band would like to call themselves, anyone this creative can all themselves whatever they bloody well like as far as I am concerned, after all labels are only there for a guide!