Eternium
Repelling a Solar Giant

I’ve been looking forward to this release since Blast Head announced it a few months ago. Not just because it’s a Blast Head release, and the new label is really coming into its own, but Eternium hail from St Louis, Missouri my metal bereft neck of the woods, and feature Chad Griffin, formerly of short lived but excellent St Louis, grindcore act Recrudescence, who I got to meet and see live on a few occasions in my Metal Maniacs days.

Eternium is however the brain child of one Markov Soroka, who formed Eternium originally as a one man project but has now surrounded himself with a full band to flesh out his visage of symphonic black/death metal. And for the most part it works very well. Apart from a slightly dry production and mix, the melding of death metal, black metal and keyboards which has nods to the likes of obvious reference in Emperor, Cradle of Filth, Bal-Sagoth, Septicflesh, as well as the likes of Stormlord, Vesperian Sorrow and such (I really want to reference Svartalvheim but I’m pretty sure that would be obscure reference overkill) comes across as a impressive, ambitious affair, compounded by a deep concept.

The 6 songs are pretty long and varied covering a number of tempos and moods over the 45 minute or so duration. There’s plenty of standard black metal pacing injected with some slower doomy death passages, and everything is laced with a very up front synth presence. They are not overpowering or delivered with theatrical gusto, but a very deliberate sense of epic, but somber and brooding atmospheres. There is a wide array of vocals from cavernous death metal growls to blackened rasps and some twisted spoken words and whispers to tell the story. The end result is an album that could use a little more focus and fine tuning, but otherwise delivers the intended goods.

The album actually starts with one of the weaker tracks, “Aura Titian: Obsidian Dressed His Eyelids”, which is a bit disjointed and scattershot riff and structure wise, especially for an album opener. However, things settle down a bit for the excellent second track “Aura Infernum: The Flight over Massless Soul”, which gently escalates with a nice mid paced trot and sweeping synths and a patient, much more structured and steady gait and memorable riffs, even with it’s jarring, twisted vocal mid section. Third track “Aura Amethyst: Her Gaze Cast Obsidian Death” is the albums most direct short track, getting right to it with some very CoF-ish synths behind the more urgent and impressive blast beats.

The album’s longest track “Aura Sentium: Concord of Ember and Zephyr” is a 10 minute behemoth of moods and variety even with some slightly faux sounding strings. It actually conveys a story with all of its time signatures and different shifts from pure, elegant symphonic blackened chaos to moody acoustic atmospherics and an impressively epic climax. “Aura Rubicon: Apotheosis of Solar Flares” is another slightly disjointed number that lacks some cohesion and fluidity amid the synths and blasts, but the closing title track delivers a nice end note with some more slightly melancholic atmospherics and more CoF-ish blasts.

It’s great to see a band of this style and depth come out of St Louis. Missouri hasn’t had a band like this since Scholomance (also a musical point of reference), and while Eternium are not quite there yet, there is a lot of potential if Marko and co hone in on the songwriting and production and really put St Louis on the black/death metal map.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
October 24th, 2013

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