Review Summary: Aeternam enters the new decade with renewed enthusiasm, releasing their most ambitious album to date.
Let me start by saying I've been an Aeternam fan since 2012's Moongod
. By then I was orbiting Behemoth, starving for bands with peripheral styles and Aeternam's sophomore worked like a charm. Its melodic middle eastern approach, reminiscent of bands like Orphaned Land or Septic Flesh, combined with an electrifying ferocity somewhat similar to Nergal & Co, hooked me immediately. I had never listened to anything that blended these elements in such an attractive fashion. One might say the band's sound is too polished for some more underground headbangers, but that refinement has been part of the band's DNA since day one. Unlike bands such as Nile, who explore eastern aesthetics within a rougher, atmospheric sound tunnel, Aeternam projects their music in a smoother, more accessible way.
The band's path throughout their three previous albums has been linear, never departing substantially from the initial style. The most visible changes are related to technical and artistic maturity, which have gradually improved. The leap is most evident in Moongod
, that despite its coherence with its predecessor has shown an improvement in terms of composition and greater focus on detail. Ruins of Empires
, on the other hand, although not having such memorable songs showed character and determination, mirroring the band's confidence in their style, which by now was fully consolidated.
As we dive into Al Qassam
we instantly realize the band has lost neither their confidence nor their aesthetic orientation, on the contrary, both title track and 'The Bringer of Rain' spread a renewed epic vigor. Achraf Loudiy's vocals are more powerful than ever, and musically the whole band is galloping triumphantly, at full speed. As we move forward, we sense Aeternam have once again shaped a narrative based on the balanced combination of harmony and strength. We find this intensity in songs like 'The Bringer of Rain' or 'Ascension', which reflect the band's heavier side, while tracks such as 'Lunar Ceremony' or 'Palmyra Scriptures' (featuring Orphaned Land vocalist Kobi Farhi) mirror Aeternam's more melodic and peaceful colors. It is in their midst that lies the band's identity. However, Al Qassam
isn't just made of these more evident contrasts. Songs such as 'Hanan Pacha' and 'Poena Universi' masterfully compile a broader chromatic palette, the latter being one of the most epic songs this band has ever recorded. The symphonic nuances, although familiar, were also enhanced, operating as a transverse layer that confers a mystical and epic aura to Al Qassam
. These symphonic arrangements operate symbiotically with the songs, as is evident in 'Celestial Plains', which dances around its symphonic surroundings.
Aeternam enters the new decade with renewed enthusiasm, releasing their most ambitious album to date. The aesthetic remains familiar, yet more refined, like a wise painter who manages to expand his stroke and chromatic palette while remaining coherent with his artistic legacy. Al Qassam
is thus a triumphant expression, an epic journey through Aeternam's colorful eastern universe.
A journey I invite you to take.