Aeternam - Moongod
Label: Galy Records
Reviewer: Tiphany Matai - 2013-03-01
Translated By Carmina Khairallah
“Enthusiasm disappears to make way for deception.”
It is not always easy to officiate in a style that has already been present for decades. Oriental Metal has been popular since the beginning of the 90’s with Pentagram, Orphaned Land or Salem to name only a few, as those bands integrated their culture and folklore for the first time to some more or less extreme Metal. Since then, many Middle Eastern bands have tried to mix in Arabic and traditional melodies, soon followed by Western bands Behemoth (“Demigod”) and Nile in the world of Death Metal.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about Death Metal. Remember Aeternam who, two years and a half ago, have offered us “Disciples of the Unseen”, a very good first shot regarding Oriental Melo-Death. Even though it is a Quebecois band, it holds in its ranks Moroccan vocalist/guitarist Ashraf Loudiy who managed to implant his origins in the songs for an exotic and well done album revolving around Egyptian mythology, mixing brutality with harmony.
This same pattern is repeated in “Moongod”, which may be placed on the same line of behavior as “Disciples of the Unseen”. Epic Melo-Death riffs can be found with a typical Middle Eastern ambiance as well as a symphonic aspect which seems to have taken some importance. The album is a new product of Jeff Fortin’s and its titles also follow the thematic of ancient Egypt, although a few elements of Mayan culture (“Xibalba”) and the Arab Spring (“Rise of Arabia”) are also present.
Listening to “Moongod” will lead to two effects.
First effect: It starts nice and slowly with a self-titled song that immediately gets the listener in the mood, with its epic and Arabic ambiance, its omnipresent keyboard and its well lead Melo-Death. No doubt here, this starts where “Disciples of the Unseen” had stopped, so there’s no change of ambiance for the listener. The difference comes from the fact that the Oriental touches become more exploited through symphonic keyboards as well as clean vocals, which take more place, such as in Dimmu Borgir’s Vortex or Borknagar who appear in an impromptu manner such as in “Invading Jerusalem” or “Idol of the Sun”.
Melodies also prevail as well as ambiances, led by impeccable guitars and a charismatic growl as in “Cosmonogy” where everything is joined to form an epic ensemble, both Symphonic and Oriental. One may be surprised to discover a totally folkloric song, “Iram of the Pillars”, entirely sung in clean vocals and lead by traditional instruments (percussions, choir, flutes, violons…), as well as a darker and more brutal song, “Xibalba”, not very far from Black/Death Symphonico-horror. At the first listen, the listener will keep in mind a bunch of good songs and stay pretty enthusiastic regarding the quality of the compositions.
But… even if it doesn’t seem so and that it is mostly recent bands that are still holding its flag, Oriental Metal isn’t new, same goes for Melo-Death and Symphonic Metal. Many have already offered us their recipe, the Oriental Death alliance has already bloomed such as mentioned above (Orphaned Land, Nile, Behemoth) as well as Symphonic Oriental Death has with Kartikeya among others. In other words, if Aeternam had released this kind of album several years ago, it could have revolutionized something.
Second effect: one may easily get bored. No need for many listens to notice that the whole is linear and deja-heard. Yes, the songs are of quality, well done, well lead, everything is calculated to the smallest detail, each instrument has its place and this type of Metal will get a lot of fans. No doubt regarding the talent of these gentlemen. Although, we know the music. The Melo-Death riffs are basic, one could hear the same in any similar recent band, may it be in “Hubal, Profaner of Light” or “Moongod”.
The Oriental Metal seems extremely reused, the kind of thing that you’d hear more or less anywhere, either in World music or Oriental Metal in general, even in “Disciples of the Unseen”. It becomes thus more annoying than not in its way to appear like a hair in your soup (“Descend of Gods” or even “Idol of the Sun” and its “destiny” that pops up just like that, without warning, after a pretty catchy and aggressive part…). In four words better than in a hundred, it breaks the charm.
Even if “Iram of the Pillars” is a charming song, as folkloric and Oriental as possible, it doesn’t really add much and doesn’t really startup well either. Linearity takes the lead – as in most of the songs – you’d expect something to happen, you want a strong part, a solo or just one small unusual thing, but no. It ends just as it started, which means, the same way, and one will stay hungry for more. Frustrating.
Finally, “Xibalba”, which demarks itself pretty well from the other songs, loses its aura pretty quickly since the ambiance resembles Cradle of Filth’s so much. They should have been more personal and original.
Even though the songs fit well together and that undoubtable hard work has been given, enthusiasm disappears to make way for deception. With what Aeternam had offered us several years ago, we had the right to expect much more. Their Oriental Melo-Death, though it’s epic and symphonic, remains flat and tasteless, linear and reused, too much of a mix between several recipes which had already worked very well in the past. Ironic for music that’s aiming to be mythological and exotic…
*Posted as part of our partnership with Tiphany Mataï, reviewer from the French Spirit of Metal Webzine..