Eternal Rest’s latest offering, A Death In The Darkness, provides a slight departure from their first album, Prophetic, which is definitely for the better. Line-up changes have seen the band move towards an improved flow in their song structures and an overall stronger embrace of the ruthless element of their sound. It seems that in this shake-up, or perhaps in the time it has taken for this release to come to fruition, some introspection has taken place, and this critical thought has lead Kaiser and Hunter to a better representation of what they can achieve.
Clean guitar sections have been put to rest in this album in favour of refining the onslaught of aggression in their work. And while there is still some remains of the Eastern style melodies of their first album, we can see that Eternal Rest are looking to be merely influenced by bands like Nile rather than being compared to them.
The instrumental work of this album is superb. Double bass is used more sparingly and serves to highlight the crescendo’s within the tracks, which is a great move in this style. Building tracks that already begin at volume level 10 is a difficult thing to do, but this has become Eternal Rest’s strength. They shred and spit their aggression and they’re not going to apologise for it. Being careful not to compare too much to Prophetic, but the transitions between riffs are much more considered and run more smoothly. It seems a lot of thought has gone into this particular element of their music.
Vocally, I can see there may be some division in the same way listeners of Psycroptic label Jason Peppiatt’s vocal performance as ‘hardcore’ or ‘not quite deathy enough’. Personally, I like to embrace the ‘Australian Bark’ of Davern’s voice. Proudly, he joins a long line of Aussie metalers that can showcase a death metal sound that no other country can seem to replicate. Davern is a welcome change to their sound and with more power in the vocal registry, Eternal Rest can definitely demand more attention.
Joe Cincotta, of Suffocation and Obituary fame, has offered his hand in mixing and mastering, and he has done an amazing job preserving and emphasising the brutal feel of the band. I could think of no one better to develop the sound of this album, and with that, let’s look at the tracks.
The Garment of Death opens the album with an assault to the face. Blistering blast beasts with a hint of black metal influence supports the strong vocals and melody that spring an uncompromising attitude and set the scene for the rest of the album. There is a slight thrash element in this track which is different to what we’ve seen, but certainly does not take away from the overall brutality.
Abolished showcases an almost chanting feel to the vocals, which would translate well live. This track demonstrates how much tighter the band has become and the sickening sound of a pole being bashed serves to emphasise the overall heaviness of Eternal Rest.
Scorned in Fractured Light reveals some clever double kick work as the onslaught continues, but a change of pace can be seen in If My Demons Wore a Crown, with a slow, dark and dirty sound. Here the black metal vocals really shine through and displays Eternal Rest’s versatility while still maintaining their aggressive edge.
Heralds of Woe and Halls of Misery do well to marry to two extremes of Eternal Rest’s compositions, blistering death metal and slow aggression in short bursts within the same track. A ‘chorusey’ feel can be seen in Halls of Misery, with a series of builds that help to break up the track.
The musicianship of the band is emphasised in Atop the Towers and Enlightened by Darkness, with tight and clean breaks. Extinguished is a track that keeps the assault rolling on, with a resurgence of chanting style vocals which is almost hypnotic.
The builds continue with The Nectar of Evil and Curse You All, both with ominous introductions. These tracks serve to close the album with a certain unsettling feeling. Especially in the depths of Curse You All, as Davern screams “Curse You All” amidst a cacophony of discontented bass, drums and guitar. A fine finish to an epic album.
The biggest criticism to this work would be the monotonous feel some of the sections have as they begin to develop. I can’t tell if it is the guitars, or the drums or the structure, but either way, it feels that Kaiser and Hunter will be considering this in future releases as they continue to grow into being one of the finest technical death metal bands Australia has to offer.