Around since the early 90s, main man Ares and his band Aeternus delivered some pretty classic, folky black metal albums early on in their career with Beyond the Wandering Moon and ….And So The Night Became. They were also one of the first bands to blend death and black metal and have the term ‘blackened death metal’ widely used to describe their sound.

They have been knocking around since their first classic albums, with the likes of 2001s Ascension of Terror and 2006s Hexaeon. With fair to middling results that never reached the heights of early albums. However, 2018s Heathen saw Ares and co. finally, started to deliver something more in line with the band’s early success, with menacing, earthy blackened death metal that felt like Aeternus again.

Philosopher enters the fray delivering the same brooding, menacing, controlled take on black/death metal with middling results. The crumbling mid-paced rumbles and Ares’ throaty roar are in full force with a meaty production that carries more heft than black metal, while still having a bit of a black metal aura.

That said, the 38 minutes and 9 songs breeze by with rarely a moment that truly stands out. Other than a surprisingly vicious blast beat that appears in “Void of Venom” or “Wrestling Worm” and its killer melodic march, there isn’t much that calls me back to Philosopher. Granted, those are two really strong tracks, but from opener “Existential Hunter” to fairly enjoyable closer “Carving the Pristine Anomie”, nothing else really gets my pulse going, and is frankly a bit forgetful with oodles of mid-paced trots and a few blast-beats here and there.

Philosopher is the victim of a borderline legendary act trying to recreate its glory days 20+ years later. And while they never broke up, and Ares has soldiered on admirably with bad (Shadows of Old, A Darker Monument) to decent (Heathen) results they have never truly recaptured past glories. Philosopher lines up somewhere between decent to OK, and not quite as good as Heathen, even with two killer tracks.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
December 4th, 2023


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