|Album Artwork: Pascal Laquerre|
Sure, infusing Middle Eastern melodies and themes into death metal isn’t exactly revolutionary; Nile’s been doing it for almost twenty years. But Aeternam take the style and offer it on a more melodic platter, sprinkled with symphonic elements and a near-perfect ear for note choice. And guitarist Ashraf Loudiy’s Moroccan ancestry adds a touch of credibility to the sound that a couple South Carolinians may lack when singing praises of the cradle of civilization.
You may be surprised to learn not only has Aeternam been around for five years, but Moongod is actually their second release on the mighty Metal Blade Records. 2010’s fantastic Disciples of the Unseen should have put them on the world metal map, but the apparent lack of attention they appear to receive from their label has kept them a clandestine powerhouse, rarely venturing forth from their French Canadian homeland. But with the new full-length, there is no reason for this band to remain in the shadows of pyramids. Moongod has upped the ante, infusing more layered synths and a more bombastic approach to the band’s niche style than their previous effort. The cascading keyboards give way to frenetic solos of the highest quality as the drums play perfectly understated brutal blasts that never take the focus off the heavy Middle Eastern atmosphere presented by the rest of the band. It’s also more experimental than their debut. While bridge tracks in metal albums are largely hit or miss, when used sparingly their inclusion can be powerful. Take fourth track, “Iram of the Pillars.” It presents a break from the melodeath onslaught to relax with an acoustic hymn longing for the mythical city of the same name. And that it launches straight into one of the most powerful intros on the effort makes it both an interesting addition and well-placed
Sand-soaked scales abound as Aeternam flawlessly combine the best of East and West without effort and a flair for catchy, palm muted riffery. If you’re looking for a heavy effort that’s a little different, a bit catchy and a lot of plain metallic fun, look no further.
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