AETERNAM
"Disciples of the Unseen"

(Metal Blade)

01. Ars Almadel
02. Angel Horned
03. Esoteric Formulae
04. The Coronation of Seth
05. Hamunaptra
06. Iteru
07. Goddess of Masr
08. Ouroboros
09. Circle in Flames
10. Through the Eyes of Ea

RATING: 8/10

Never any shortage of quality metal acts in Canada, particularly the Province of Quebec, it is AETERNAM's turn to make a cannonball splash in the heavy music pool with debut album "Disciples of the Unseen". The Quebec City band proves themselves not only exceedingly capable musicians, but also creative songwriters, albeit within the comparatively small realm of epic death metal.

On "Disciples of the Unseen", the epic part pertains to a style that crosses BEHEMOTH with NILE and MELECHESH in a way that is genuinely gripping, if not entirely unique. The heavier, riff/blast-based sections are very much in the BEHEMOTH vein, as are the vocals of guitarist Achraf Loudiy, his a voice reminiscent of both Nergal — just not as low and full — and, to a lesser extent, Chuck Billy's (TESTAMENT) aggressive side. What sets the group apart from their aforementioned peers is the surprisingly effective use of melodic clean vocals on songs like "Esoteric Formulae", "The Coronation of Seth", and "Ouroboros", a track that also incorporates several variations on the album's more typical vocal format. Along those same lines, the use of operatic harmony vocals on "Angel Horned" and angelic voices on "Goddess of Masr" are also well done and in keeping with the album's many colors amidst the raging aggression that is central to almost every track.

Yet rather than serving as merely coloration or accent, the Middle Eastern melodies and percussion, as well as the softer variations on the metallic theme — much of which is competently performed by keyboardist Samuel Dubois — are often just as integral to the success of the arrangements. Whether most recognizable in a more pronounced role as introductory segments ("Ars Almadel", the album's instrumental intro, "The Coronation of Seth" and "Iteru") or as elements part and parcel to the core of the composition ("Goddess of Masr" and "Through the Eyes of Ea"), AETERNAM has written and recorded "Disciples of the Unseen" so that both ends of the spectrum blend to maximize the value of the entity as a whole.

In the final analysis, "Disciples of the Unseen" does more than hint at the vast potential of AETERNAM; it thrusts itself into what will ultimately be the upper tier of progressive death metal in 2010. Maybe not album-of-the-year material or anything, but a sure bet to get considerable positive attention in critical and fan circles.

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