ALBUM REVIEW : AETERNAM — Ruins Of Empires
2017 has given us so much in matters of metal already - as February came to an end, my two favourite bands from the motherland (and by that I mean Québec, Canada) each had unleashed a mammoth of an album and neither my ears nor my brain could be happier. Noted as one of my most anticipated albums for this year, Aeternam's newest record Ruins Of Empires came, saw, and conquered. A more than adequate following to Moongod, this new album casts the spotlight on fallen rulers of times past in a semi-conceptual album – oh, the glorious union of metal and history, how I love thee!
The album is off to an epic start with “Damascus Gate”, which is a really great mix of all the elements that Aeternam have put together for this album and a perfect way to prepare the listener for what is to come. It is no wonder "Damascus Gate" was the first single. One thing well-showcased into this song but that became evident a few songs into this album is the amount of clean vocals on this album versus the previous ones; Achraf Loudiy’s beautiful voice shines in its deserved place. It is a wonderful addition and, in songs like “The Keeper Of Shangri-La” and “Nightfall On Numidia,” it brings an ethereal feel to songs that already sound like they were unearthed from another era, carved in the sands of time and played in hush tones within the sacred walls of cities long gone. Personally, it is a feeling only bands who dabble into Oriental traditional music styles can bring to me, and Aeternam does so well in this niche area that one must give them the love and respect they deserve.
Aeternam - "Damascus Gate"
Fear not; Ruins Of Empires is also an album of conquest and power and hunger for blood. With crushing songs like “Paropamisadae,” “Colossus” and my favourite track on this album “Praetor Of Mercury,” Aeternam does not wander away from their death metal roots, so you can rest easy. Also keeping with their symphonic side, they have made the bold move of using choirs in several songs as well as a female vocalist in a few – giving them a more dramatic edge, which works perfectly. How they merge the darkness and the light is really what makes this music unique, and why Ruins Of Empires is such a great album.
The band did something amazing alongside this album; they created a series of short videos highlighting each great ruler depicted in each song, adding a crash course to each person they found inspiration in for this album. The songs, being sometimes ambiguously titled and poetically worded, take on a whole new meaning once you know whom and what they represent, so I highly encourage everyone to watch this series to really appreciate this album at maximum capacity.
Ruins Of Empires was everything I expected out of this album, out of Aeternam, and I strongly believe it’s going to remain very high on my list of favourite releases this year. It’s a beautifully crafted record with a noble purpose. It has heart, but also guts, and glory – what else could you possibly want?!