Review Summary: Middle-eastern themed death metal that is actually worthwhile.
Aeternam is barely one album into their careers and yet, thanks to their brand of Middle Eastern influenced death metal, they're already being compared to Nile. Poor guys. It's a lazy comparison, really. Aside from the rather obvious ancient Egypt/Mesopotamian themes, they don't have all that much in common. Dark Tranquillity would be a better reference point than Nile, but then again, Disciples of the Unseen
doesn't strictly adhere to the former's school of death metal either. Realistically, Aeternam's sound spans melodic death metal and a heavier, more straightforward variation of death metal. Although this doesn't necessarily mean Disciples of the Unseen
is eclectic or groundbreaking, it does make for a fairly rewarding listen.
Unlike some of their peers, Aeternam do not allow the middle-eastern elements to define their music, in a gimmicky sort of way. There are moments when said influences are the main focal point, such as the symphonic intro track, "Ars Almadel" or the interlude "Iteru", which forgoes death metal completely. But Aeternam is a metal band, not an Egyptian folk tribute band. Likewise, the more exotic, traditional passages serve to compliment the record's direction. "The Coronation of Seth" embodies this perfectly, utilizing a melodic riff structure that is as organic sounding as it is catchy. Clean vocals in the chorus help diversify the track, while the production is razor sharp, without sacrificing any of the obligatory heaviness. In other cases, Aeternam elects not to use them at all; "Circle in Flames" is based almost solely around the rhythmic riffing of guitarists Achraf Loudiy and Alex Loignon, although Loudiy's deep growl is certainly notable. Despite being one of the more aggressive songs on Disciples of the Unseen
, the piece is accentuated by atmospheric keyboards, which are thankfully employed subtly.
Melodic death metal may have been done to death over the last fifteen years and Middle-Eastern themed metal tends to be as gimmicky as it sounds. But Aeternam has a winner in Disciples of the Unseen
. The record avoids many of the pitfalls that plague Aeternam's peers, while managing to carve out a niche for the Quebec City based group. More than anything, Disciples of the Unseen
sees Aeternam at their most focused and comfortable, making for a very promising debut.