Aeternam - _Moongod_
(Galy Records, 2012)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (7.5 out of 10)
Behold the rise of Arabia! Or at least its growing influence on extreme metal. Aeternam is a band from Canada that has reached a stride through writing death metal with copious Middle Eastern influences; in terms of lyrics, scales, melodies and themes. At first I thought 'oh good, the Orphaned Land copycats are starting to come to the surface'. However, the bombastic soundscapes with which they've built _Moongod_ had me thinking more Septicflesh and Behemoth than Orphaned Land. But let's be honest though, lots of metal musicians have a penchant for Middle Eastern scales because of their obscurity and inherent sadness. The Moroccan origin of the band's guitarist and vocalist solves the puzzle though -- especially considering that some tracks have a few sentences sung in Arabic.

_Moongod_ comes as the second album under Aeternam's belt and it's an album that has me expecting a rising trend in extreme metal. The bold Middle Eastern tone laid out over a death metal base may sound like a very good idea on the theoretical front, but since it has been done before, it needs some very good execution lest it descend into the downward spiral of redundancy. Luckily, Aeternam have narrowly escaped said redundancy because _Moongod_ does the job right in terms of riffing, melodic variety, catchiness and production. The third track "Iram of the Pillars", which is entirely non-metal but equally awesome, is an example of the creativity in using the Middle-eastern themes and coming up with something melodic and memorable.

The deep growls are for the most part well enunciated and delivered with passion. Statements like "beheading disciples of Isa", "invading the land of the infidels" and a few others had me thinking Behemoth right away. Nobody can deny the influence of these Polish giants on Aeternam; check out the choruses of "Xibalba" and the opening title track. However, the track that exemplifies Aeternam's adoration for Septicflesh and Orphaned is, in my humble view, "Cosmogony". The driving double bass pattern coupled with the deep growls and supporting keyboards point towards the land of the Greek while the progressive transition in the middle is almost typical Orphaned Land.

This mix of great riffs, sweet melodies and commanding vocal performance has been meticulously put together to form a forty-five minute album that will instantly demand multiple listens. I would urge you to respond to this demand, because if you appreciate a sound death metal beating but don't mind some exotic melodies and a crisp production job, you'll definitely come back to _Moongod_ many times in the future. Just keep your eyes and ears open for any oncoming copy cats that would want to take advantage of this fertile patch of extreme metal land.


(article published 13/1/2013)

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