Review Summary: Equal parts atmospheric black metal and epic movie score.
Aquilus is a one-man band from Melbourne, Australia, yet after listening to Griseus it seems hard to believe that this entire album could have been written and recorded by only one person. The depth and attention to detail on this album are extremely impressive. Every aspect of the music found here seems as if it was meticulously crafted and placed precisely where it needed to be. No shortcuts appeared to have been taken with this album and it clearly shows. Griseus is truly an impressive piece of music many years in the making, and it was well worth it.
Griseus is an album that does not fall within one genre, but draws influences from black metal, folk, and classical music. Lush string sections, as well as meandering piano leads, guide the listener through the album just as much as overdriven guitars and black metal rasps do. Griseus also makes good use of acoustic guitars in various songs. This mix of styles and instruments is executed perfectly, never sounding awkward or forced. Soft acoustic sections trade off with violent black metal attacks seamlessly, causing everything to sound extremely smooth. Aquilus’s ability to mix these various music styles is uncanny and it is safe to say that Griseus is one of the most well-executed black metal/folk combination albums in existence.
The songs found within Griseus almost seem as if they were composed for the score to a film such as the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy. Each song experiences changes in mood throughout its running length, as if it was supposed to accompany a dramatic scene in a film. For example, standout track, “In Lands of Ashes”, changes from a somber mood, to a victorious sound, and then to a frantic and haunting section all within its 12 minute running length. This almost storytelling approach to composing the songs truly takes the music to a new level, entrapping the listener, making them want more. Fortunately the album is well over an hour long, so any listeners will be able to escape the real world for a while, as they get lost in this dense album.
The production value of Griseus should also be noted. Often , one-man bands have questionable production values, yet the sound on Griseus is clear and crisp. Every instrument is at the perfect level in the mix compared to the others and nothing is fuzzy or distorted. This clear production enhances the overall listening experience and enables the listener to hear every minute detail perfectly.
Epic is a word that is thrown around far too much referring to music these days, but Aquilus may have crafted an album that is deserving of that tag. A listener unaware of what this was may believe this is an excerpt from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack. Every melody is crafted so beautifully that the music conveys the wide array of emotions that could be found in an epic film. Nothing is drawn out to the point of boredom, as the mood is constantly changing. Waldorf, the genius behind Aquilus, has crafted a masterpiece of an album, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys atmospheric black metal, folk, or stunning musical compositions.