Tuesday, May 18, 2010

In Aeternum - The Pestilent Plague

In Aeternum - The Pestilent Plague
2000, Necropolis Records

Necropolis seems to have a healthy affection for Dissection, over the years releasing the albums of a number of bands that were either connected to, or heavily influenced by, that revered Swedish death metal group, and then not only releasing the Dissection early material ('The Past Is Alive') but also sponsoring the Swedish scene when every other label seemed to turn their heads and cough politely when faced with 'yet another band of blackened Swedes'. In Aeturnum have been around for quite some time now, and are very good at what they do: meaning they have certain limitations, but they work very will within them. For the most part this is very Swedish sounding, in the guitar harmonies, etc. - but not to the point, I believe, where they are ready to be the 'next' Dissection the way their label seems to want them to be. The first song on this record ('The Apocalypse Division'), for example, could have been a Dissection outtake (after starting like Angelcorpse), but that's fine...all's above-board when you want to reference your influences, and the rest of the album does not exactly follow this first song's lead. The best riff on this album, however, is in this first song (starting at 2:03), the pseudo-chorus melody arising out of the break at 1:45 into the opus. This riff has Dissection written all over it, but it is also memorable enough to transcend that characteristic when you find it echoing in your head days after your first listen. Besides, when you go Swedish you basically only have four sounds to choose from: early Entombed, Dissection, Dark Funeral, or In Flames. So what we have after this first song is a long album filled to the brim with those arching, swirling traditional (In Aeturnum are nothing if not traditional) Swedish melodies, a little crunch, some bruising rhythms to take the edge off, constant blasting, and a scarred-throat vocal delivery that is very close to Pete Helmkamp at times. I would like to also add that the cover art, by Necrolord again, is absolutely perfect for this album, even though it references (a little too heavily) the Dissection reaper from the covers of 'Storm of the Light's Bane' and 'Where Dead Angels Lie'...I don't know if Wahlin did that on purpose or not, or whether the band came up with the idea for the cover or it was the label's decision or whether it was left to chance (somehow I doubt the last), it is another fantastically nostalgic image from the artist - referring to record covers from the past where the pure enjoyment of creativity outshone marketing know-how. There is only one negative that I can see (or hear) about this record: the bland, colorless, vanilla wafer (as usual) production courtesy of The Abyss studios and the Official Brother of Peter Tagtgren, Tommy the Elder. Enough with The Abyss, already - that's all I'm going to say on the matter because this is an In Aeturnum review, not a rant, but how anyone ever first decided (whoever started the trend) the Abyss sound was 'perfect' or 'admirable' is completely beyond me. Yes, Peter Tagtgren is the Scott Burns of the late '90s, but hopefully that will stop very soon before yet another band is reduced to homogeneity. This albums kills, despite all of that...