Released: 2013, Blast Head Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
From first glance, it's quite clear that Eternium's Repelling a Solar Giant is a concept album. Originally a one-man project and now completed with a full line-up, Markov Soroka's musical brainchild evidently has a lot of thought behind it. It only takes a look at the complicated back story (“Enter Aura Titian, God of positive life, a noble and devoted worshiper of the Sun. After a brief passage of being and creating new-born life with his love, God of negative life Aura Amethyst. The Solar God has destroyed her from these grounds, leaving a permanent scar of obsidian on his eyelids. Titian cannot believe his eyes. He grows insane and denounces his deity, conjuring up inane and ballistic rituals to try to revive his lost love...”) to see that this didn't suddenly come to him after a couple down the pub. A shaking of the head is directed towards the typical 'metal' CGI cover artwork which doesn't fit in with the style of music at all, although it is quite telling of the album title. Bad artwork aside however, there is a lot of substance here. Unfortunately substance does not always equal musical excellence.
Although this album is described as symphonic blackened death metal, what you get is something swimming in melodic death metal influence with a few sprinklings of black metal here and there. The entire thing is keyboard and synth-driven, so if you like the newer works of Omnium Gatherum this is right up your street. Opener 'Aura Titian: Obsidian Dressed His Eyelids' flows fluidly into 'Aura Infernum: The Flight Over Massless Soul' by reusing the same catchy keyboard melody. The transition is completed seamlessly and I think these two tracks best convey Saroka's composition ability.
Vocally, Repelling a Solar Giant is a mixed bag; often far too quiet but sometimes the gutturals come along and pack an almighty punch. There is a fondness for whispering here, something which is atmospheric the first couple of times around but quickly becomes cheesy and tedious. Volume is also an issue with the drums as they are not strong enough and can be quite clicky. The bizarre cackling/growling in the middle of the second track only serves to raise eyebrows rather than create the assumed frightening effect.
As the album seeps into the third track, the black metal influence is much clearer and it really picks up the pace. The drums are infinitely better; a barrage of blastbeats showing drummer Ryan Kelley's technical proficiency. This continues into 'Aura Sentium: Conchord of Ember and Zephyr', where an electronic violin makes a pleasantly surprising appearance and shows the band's symphonic side in a purposeful manner. Cradle of Filth's influence is rife here, but in the best possible way, and is maintained throughout until the song climax which effectively conveys the album's concept. The downside with this track however, along with quite a few of the others, is its length making it drag on and become dull after a while.
The final two tracks are also somewhat of a mixed bag. Melancholic throaty chanting immediately retrieves my interest with a much-needed injection of the occult. The keyboards that follow this could prove too cheesy and Nightwish-esque for some but it's nothing unbearable. I was expecting the finale to be an explosion of brutality and pomp but it turned out to be a bit limp. Overall, the album is generally good with some very impressive grandiose moments but these are let down by the grimace-invoking cheesiness. I think I'll stick to the first two tracks.
Review by Beth Avison