Review: Aeternitas – House of Usher

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Written by Rainer Kerber

The Lübeck based symphonic metal band Aeternitas was founded in 1999 by Anja and Alexander Hunziger. The much lauded debut album Requiem, released in 2000, is based on a variety of different styles from classical to metal, and next sixteen years saw three more albums released with the latest being Edgar Allan Poe-inspired House of Usher.

The album starts with the bombastic intro ‘Le Coeur’, which is dominated by chorus and strings.

The title song ‘House Of Usher’ is a mid tempo song, also with a lot of orchestral bombast, banging guitar riffs and an outstanding singing duet from clear female and male voices (Alma Mathar and Oliver Bandmann).

To the beautiful ballad ‘Madeline’ the band has released a lyric video. At the beginning Alma is accompanied by the piano. Later, the strings are subtly inserted. Then the song goes over into a power ballad, which is rounded off by a quiet, filigree guitar solo, which is, for me, one of the highlights of the album.

‘Fear’ gets it rocking again. The singing is accompanied by powerful guitars and orchestral passages. Again, the guitar solo makes for the final touch.

‘The Haunted Palace’ is another beautiful ballad, where acoustic guitars underline the singing.

‘Can You Hear the Demons’ has quite airplay qualities because of its catchiness. Above all, the chorus encourages the listener to sing along.

With “Ethelred” the album sounds out. Here again, guitars re-engage in interplay with orchestral passages and epic choruses for tension arcs.

While the previous releases, particularly Rappacinis Tochter, had to be listened to intensively, House of Usher is much more commercial. The fourteen songs (without intro) are true symphonic metal masterpieces, but the length is also the curse of the album. The musical structure is all quite similar. I miss the occasional rough edges or the surprise effects. Less would have been more, but that is whining at a very high level. At the end of the day, Aeternitas has published a very good album, which makes me curious about a live performance of the band. 8/10

 

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