Released: 2005, Galy Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Hailing from the very un-Black land of Toronto, Canada, Eclipse Eternal see fit to steal the thunder of symphonic Black metal stalwarts like Dimmu Borgir and Emperor while contributing absolutely nothing new to the genre. REIGN OF THE UNHOLY BLACKENED EMPIRE hearkens back to the days of ENTHRONE DARKNESS TRIUMPHANT and a less-Gothic VEMPIRE, where an intrinsic keyboard passage coupled with a buzzsaw guitar riff and immaculate production set the mood for the music. Glen Drover (Megadeth, Eidolon, ex-King Diamond) handles production and mixing duties (with Andy LaRocque of King Diamond taking care of the mastering) and the result is a full-bodied, multi-layered sound that eschews the hollow, treble-heavy work of the Black metal elite. In other words, this ain’t no Darkthrone album! Still, it’s difficult to get past the fact that this album has not only been done by numerous Dimmu-clones but even the second-tier Black metallers like Naglfar and Old Man’s Child were churning similar material out five years ago and have since progressed. The overly-long songs here don’t help matters, either, with most approaching or even surpassing the six-minute mark. At 63 minutes, REIGN OF THE UNHOLY BLACKENED EMPIRE goes on for far too long and would have benefited from some trimming to help speed things along. Otherwise, Eclipse Eternal seem to have all the necessary ingredients in place—blasphemy, death and destruction—to engender themselves a place in the halls of Black metal’s grim-faced outer circle.
The majestic intro to “Desolation Forms My Mind’s Eye” is ripped right from the Dimmu playbook as Gemesis’ sweeping keyboards set the tone for Voldamares’ part-spoken, part-shrieked vocal delivery. The double bass and blastbeats from Wulfgar are relentless, like a battering ram to the temple, as shown on “Murder As Art.” The venomous vocals of Voldamares vary from a piercing, upper register shriek to a throaty, death metal grunt on this track, not unlike that of the earlier work of Sir Filth himself. Besides an acoustic middle section, the meandering eight-and-a-half-minute “Awaken Ye Lords of The Dark” boasts not one, but two solos courtesy of Glen Drover and his technicality and skill far outweigh that of this band. In fact, I have to commend Eclipse Eternal for landing Drover and LaRocque to twiddle and tweak their debut album because both are exemplary musicians causing me to scratch my head how exactly they got involved with this band. The melodic riffs that punctuate the second half of “Infested With The Human Disease” finally make something stand out and worthy of mention. Shorter, more succinct and clearly better thought out, it makes me wish more tracks like this existed on this CD. “Storming The Pearly Gates” is a charging slab of heaviness whose nearly eight-minute length doesn’t weigh it down too badly. The sampled screams and Voldamares’ evil incarnate vocals really suit the song and create the perfect mood. Musically, the band definitely has some chops as demonstrated on the two instrumental pieces, “Heralds of The Apocalypse” and “Requiem For The Fallen,” with bombastic, marching drums and clean acoustic guitar. Eclipse Eternal are not hacks by any means and it is nice to hear a Black metal band capable of doing more than just stringing together a few sloppy riffs and calling it a song.
REIGN OF THE UNHOLY BLACKENED EMPIRE is a throwback to late 90s, keyboard-driven symphonic Black metal and if that sort of thing floats your boat, then this slice of retro will surely send you into orgasmic bliss. Fans of Satyricon, Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir and Emperor will be tickled to hear that while those bands have moved on to more accessible pastures, Eclipse Eternal still waves the flag high and mighty. The keyboard passages are lush and progressive, vocals are wrenched from the inner pits of Hell and the drumming is punishing. This is a solid but familiar Black metal CD and the ever-dependable Galy Records has come through with yet another band to add to the list of “Ones To Watch” because with a little better guidance, Eclipse Eternal could do some serious damage.
KILLER KUTS: “Desolation Forms My Mind’s Eye,” “Murder As Art,” “Infested With The Human Disease,” “Storming The Pearly Gates”