posted on 9/2006 By:
What’s On Tap: An incredibly bleak, often sweeping one-man doooooooooooooooooom project from Sweden...
Is it possible Johan Ericson is truly this glum? Seriously, folks, based on the amount of gloom this guy has vented through his musical endeavors over the past few years, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out he darts about Sweden in a bright red convertible, sharing laughs with a chimp playing a ukulele in the passenger seat. I mean seriously, can he possibly have a shred of melancholy left to emote in his free time when his studio time is filled with projects creating ponderous offerings such as this and that which his mainstay, Draconian, produces?
For those of you unfamiliar with the man, not only is Johan Ericson the sole member of this endeavor, but he’s also a founding member of Swedish goth/death/gloomsters, Draconian, a band also well known for releasing weepy, despondent material. Well, apparently Johan has a sizeable bitterness-reserve-tank, because this record makes Draconian nearly sound like Dragonforce. Well, obviously that’s a sizeable exaggeration, but you get the idea. While Draconian chooses to meld elements of death/gloom with a heavy goth, sometimes folkish influence, Doom:Vs melds death/gloom with a serious dose of plodding, gray funeral dooooooom. However, what separates Aeternum Vale from many of the other funeral doom releases I’ve heard lately is its unabashed reliance on rueful guitar licks to lull listeners into a somber mood, often giving it an (old) My Dying Bride, (old) Paradise Lost, Daylight Dies, or Shape of Despair feel. In fact, if you’re the type of person that really gets off on gloomy, forlorn, weepy/sweepy guitar licks, this record’s gonna have you brushing up on those noose-knots in a bloody hurry. Ericson’s supreme ability to tap the ‘tragic guitar’ vein is the absolute heart of Aeternum Vale, as each of the six songs on display features this element in abundance.
Album opener, “The Light that Would Be”, stands as the (ahem) ‘fastest’ cut of the record, and initially led me to believe the album would be closer to a Swallow the Sun-ish endeavor, but things slow immediately following. The next five songs all feature a creeping, onerous pace at their core, but add various moments of instrumental and vocal differentiation to add flavor and texture to the whole of the record. Track two, “Empire of the Fallen”, mixes in some nice, heavy brass/horn instrumentation in the backdrop to give the song a grand, epic feel, and also features touches of lightly layered female vocals (Lisa Johansson of Draconian perhaps?) to compliment Ericson’s gruff, deep bellowing. “The Faded Earth”, “Oblivion Upon Us”, and “The Crawling Insects” all toss in atmospheric keyboards and sporadic clean vocals (both sung and spoken), with the latter song spotlighting guest vocals from fellow Draconian guitarist, Daniel Arvidsson. The record closes out with the beautifully sweeping, moss-covered opus, “Aeternus”, a 12-minute tour de force of crushing, love-scorned, gray sorrow that bends and weaves from slothful chugging to quiet atmospherics seamlessly.
Aeternus Vale is the perfect companion to a melancholy motherfuckers’ sorrow-soaked day. I often find myself in quite the somber mood, and this record has done a beautiful job of blotting out the accursed, perpetual California sun I sometimes find myself cringing from. Fans of funeral doom and the more adventurous listeners of any of the aforementioned bands should take note of this beautifully glum project. Definitely recommended.
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