Sleep of Reason
posted on 10/2005 By:
It’s sure easy to talk about how heavy doom metal is. You’d think that even the featherweights of a genre that’s dedicated to being the most trudging, the most downtuned, and the most spectacularly weighty brand of metal would still hit pretty hard, but such is not the case. The Eternal play a familiar brand of goth-rock doom, or doomy goth rock, or rocky doom goth, or some such combination thereof, and to be perfectly couth, this shit has no business associating itself with doom metal as it’s commonly understood. Where doom metal is ultimately visceral music, relying on density and volume to get its point across, The Eternal and their peers attack from a more melodic and structured standpoint. Though the music bears some superficial similarity to doom in terms of pacing and tuning, it ultimately holds its dramatic gothic influences more dearly, and whether or not that’s a good thing is at the reader’s discretion. As for the example at hand, this Aussie bunch has performed competently on Sleep of Reason, but the album’s success will ultimately depend upon the listener’s patience for this kind of crossbreed.
The material on Sleep of Reason is split along relatively clear goth/doom lines; there’s plenty of both mid-tempo synth bouncing and thick chordage, but rarely do the twain meet. If anything, this album is slightly canted towards the lighter end of the spectrum, and there’s nary a harsh vocal to be found on the album. Similarly, the majority of the songs here feature some manner of catchy chorus, usually lofted into the stratosphere by Mark Kelson’s excellent voice. It’s not a homogenous album, certainly, and The Eternal tend to trade off between effective chorus vehicles like “Dream’s End” and heavier, more My Dying Bride-esque tracks like “To Drown.”
This dichotomy actually ends up hurting the album, unfortunately. It appears that The Eternal would have produced a much more efficacious, consistent collection of songs had they chosen one aspect of their sound and focused on it. While the first half hour or so of music works well, the twin-guitar instrumentation of “Sleep of Reason” is a little too stale for its own good, and by the time the appropriately titled “Everlasting” draws (finally) to a close, the listener is simply waiting on the next popped-out chorus or melancholic guitar harmony. The heavy parts aren’t massive enough to keep the songs grounded, and their presence is still frequent enough to bar The Eternal from allowing their melodies to really take charge of the lengthy songs.
While this band has some genuine songwriting potency, their Janus-faced songsmithing and tendency to outstay their welcome renders Sleep of Reason simply above average. If The Eternal can focus and galvanize their sound, they might rise to some degree of prominence, but for now they will appeal primarily to the paradoxical demographic inhabited by those who like their doom metal light and their goth rock heavy.
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