Disciples Of The Unseen
16 February 2010
by Tom Dare
It is so very rare that a debut album completely shocks you with its utter brilliance. It is even rarer that a band essentially invent a new sub-genre in the process. Yet Canada’s Aeternam have delivered a first release that does both.
This band has automatically drawn comparisons with Nile due an obsession with ancient Egypt and being rooted in death metal. That is a spurious comparison, however, as they are nothing alike musically. The best way to describe their sound is to mix the best bits of Behemoth’s last decade with extra groove and a Middle Eastern sound in a similar fashion to what Melechesh have done with black metal. However this does not come any where near to doing this astonishing display of musicianship justice.
The first listen to Disciples Of The Unseen begins with by feeling slightly twee, as the intro track sounds like a heavier version of music from the soundtrack to Laurence of Arabia or The Mummy. Midway through the first song proper- the simply magnificent Angel Horned– this feeling has totally disappeared. Yes, the riffs are Egyptian-sounding death metal riffs, but this is no silly folk metal band. This is straight up heavy fucking metal- the brutal opening gives way to grooving heaviness and extreme vocals. Frontman Achraf Loudiy has a roar that is somewhere between Nergal and LG Petrov of Entombed, and he delivers it with total commitment here.
It is the next two tracks that really hammer home the brilliance of this band. ‘Esoteric Formulae’ begins where ‘Angel Horned’left off- great riffs and lead lines in a grooving, Middle Eastern-sounding pattern. The middle of the song adds a new element into the mix, and makes you sit up and get very excited. Loudiy begins to sing- not a –core whine, really sing– and the dynamic is utterly changed. The vocal line itself is stunning; majestically soaring the way Ihsahn’s clean passages did on Emperor’s Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk, but with far more soul and balls. This is not the cold authority of Satan being evoked; this is the majestic, visceral power of the pharaohs. On this evidence, Achraf Loudiy is one of the brightest vocal talents in metal.
If ‘Esoteric Formulae’ was good, the next track ‘The Coronation Of Seth’ almost defies description. It opens with acoustic guitar and hand-played drums before ripping into crushing, grooving heaviness which Loudiy roars viciously over. After sumptuous, interwoven riffs, the melodic vocals return. At first they are soft and lilting before rising effortlessly to tower over all, crowning an epic song that is a heavy metal anthem in waiting.
Watch Aeternam play ‘Angel Horned’ live in Montreal
The rest of the album is similarly stunning, mixing majestic melodic vocals with roaring aggression, all based on groove-laden death metal riffs that evoke the splendour of the Valley of the Kings. This is a phenomenal record of atmosphere, power and beauty built on a deeply heavy foundation. Not letting up in excellence from the intro track, through the acoustic centrepiece ‘Iteru’, to the epic closer ‘Through The Eyes Of Ea’. The riffs are top-draw, the leads stunning; the vocals magnificent; the rhythm section tight as a rope pulling a block of stone up a pyramid. The symphonic keyboards augment and compliment rather than take over. Egypti-death is born, and is fantastic.
Disciples Of The Unseen is one of the most brilliant, inventive and exciting debut albums for many a year, outstanding from beginning to end, varied and captivating. Exceptional.
Sounds like: Melechesh, Behemoth, The Mummy Returns soundtrack
Top Tracks: The Coronation Of Seth, Hamunaptra, Through The Eyes Of Ea
Aeternam- Disciples Of The Unseen track listing:
The Coronation Of Seth
Goddess Of Masr
Circle In Flames
Through The Eyes Of Ea