Review Summary: Beyond The Wandering Moon is an often overlooked gem of 90's Black Metal.
A couple weeks ago, two of my friends told me that they were planning a summer trip to Norway and that in preparation for their trip they wanted to get in tune with some of the country's cultural offerings. As the conversation progressed, one of them exclaimed in disgust, "Ugh... There's so much metal." The next day I presented him with a slew of my favorite Norwegian metal albums. Along with the obvious choices from the likes of Ulver, Emperor, Burzum and Enslaved, I made sure to include Aeternus' Beyond The Wandering Moon
Aeternus formed in 1993 in the midst of the Bergen Black Metal scene. Led by guitarist/vocalist Ares, Aeternus' first attempt at treading the frigid ocean of Norwegian metal was their 1995 debut Dark Sorcery
. Two years later they built upon Dark Sorcery's
brooding Black Metal with 1997's Beyond The Wandering Moon
. Combining the doomish folk/death of Amorphis' Tales From the Thousand Lakes
with with the epic Black Metal sounds of Ulver, Beyond The Wandering Moon
is a stunning piece of 90's Black Metal that is tragically over looked.
Beyond The Wandering Moon
is ushered in with the melancholy instrumental piece Under the Blade of the Dead. The eerie piano and morose synth swells are the musical equivalent of gothic horror as it pulls hard on the heartstrings while creating a paralyzing atmosphere of fear. As Under the Blade of the Dead subsides the droning sound of classic Black Metal fuzz steps into light and soon erupts into the blistering drum intro of Sworn Revenge. Sworn Revenge is Aeternus at their best. To the average listener it may appear to be nothing but pounding drums engulfed in a smoggy haze of distortion but a look deeper reveals not only the mournful tremolo picking that is expected with the genre, but majestic leads and medieval riffing all routed by Ares' thundering death vocals. Aeternus are more than just another folksy Black Metal band though. Vind and Waiting For The Storms display that they have a mastery of the bleak and raw side of the genre as well. Tourmented shrieks and punishing growls meld seamlessly with lightning fast blast beats, buzz-saw tremolo picking and the downright nasty production already used through out Beyond The Wandering Moon
. These two sides come together flawlessly two create a beast of an album that ebbs and flows like taking a raft down a roaring river. The folksier moments carry like wide open expanses of peaceful, crystal clear water right before you get thrown into the cascading violence of the white water of some of the best Black Metal the 90's has to offer. It truly is a magnificent ride.
Aeternus' Beyond The Wandering Moon
is an absolute gem of a Black Metal album that unfortunately gets looked over by the masses time and time again. While it may not be as well known as In The Nightside Eclipse
or The Somberlain
, that doesn't mean that it can't hold its own with the big boys.