Black metal is a genre which, in many ways, is split straight down the middle – between those who seek to live merely on its past glories and those who desire to drive it forward and re-establish its relevancy in the modern era: those content to don the antiquated corpse paint and regurgitate lo-fi pre-1990s riffs and production values (and I’ll admit that there’s definitely a place – and a market – for that approach) against those seeking to modernise the genre while at the same time paying homage to its roots…
Dublin’s Aeternum Vale definitely fall very much into the latter category. Having witnessed their phenomenal stages shows twice in as many months, I must admit that I approached this debut album with a certain degree of trepidation: there were so many of the usual questions buzzing around in my head… I then listened to it on the bus to witness the band’s most recent performance at the Perverting The Innocent festival (http://planetmosh.com/perverting-the-innocent-dublin-fibber-magees-27092014/) and then again on the 100 mile journey home again – and any doubts I may have had were well and truly blown away by the enormity of this album.
Recorded live, mixed and mastered over a period of just three days, ‘Inter Arma Enim…’ is an album that is as raw and passionate as it is dark and compelling. Opener ‘Smash The Pillars’ (the video for which is streaming below) sets the scene in magnificent style: opening with a gently picked intro, it quickly picks up steam into a pummelling, nightmarish vision of what is to come, with its beautifully winding riff and withering vocals.
The rhythm section of Dave McCarron and Raych Corcoran is tighter than a nun’s fanny, leaving Dave Gibson and Owen Ryan Handbury to weave their almost mystical melodies over the top of skull-crushing riffs which will get even the most hardened and cynical of ‘bangers nodding along in appreciation, while Colin Byrne’s downright evil vocal performance is as towering as the man himself. The songs themselves are also beautifully and thoughtfully constructed, combining the right levels of understated brutalism and progressive complexity to keep the listener intrigued and involved from beginning to end and back again.
When we reviewed Aeternum Vale live earlier this year, we said that we reckoned they possessed enough to possibly give fellow countrymen Primordial a run for their money in the near future… ‘Inter Arma…’ may not quite put them into that league just yet, but it certainly gives them a massive boot in that direction.
Smash The Pillars / I Take Leave Of The Sun / Into The Depths My Acolyte / A Last Sunrise In This Dying Sky / On Barren Soil We Fell / Mourning The Idol / In Our Darkened Hour / The Gods Of Martyrs
Recommended listening: On Barren Soil We Fell