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Aeternitas - House Of Usher (2016) - Review

Band: Aeternitas
Album title: House Of Usher
Release date: 21 October 2016
Label: Massacre Records

01. Le Coeur
02. House Of Usher
03. The Prophecy
04. Roderick
05. Madeline
06. Fear
07. Forbidden Love
08. The Haunted Palace
09. Tears
10. Buried Alive
11. Can You Hear The Demons
12. The Fall
13. Falling Star
14. Open Your Eyes
15. Ethelred

Germans Aeternitas are back with a new album! I was already wondering what is going on with this band, thinking that they disbanded, since they released their previous album, Rappacinis Tochter, back in 2009 which was soon followed by a live DVD with the same name. Then silence, until the words started circulating that they are working on a new thing earlier this year. My first encounter with this band was their second full-lenght named La Danse Macabre, released in 2004. I found it interesting back then because Aeternitas showed a huge potential by combining gothic metal with classical music, modern electronics and made everything so very theatrical. The next album, before mentioned Rappacinis Tochter was more or less a typical gothic metal album, a bit more like a proper gothic musical. Somehow it seems that this band can't really find its own expression as every album showed a different stylistical direction and as well this new offering is not an exception, the only thing that seems to be a constant here is that they always implement the sound with some classical music instruments and using a solid gothic metal background.

On House Of Usher Aeternitas went into more or less a typical symphonic metal direction with strong gothic metal and even hard rock influences. This is a concept album, based on the famous short story 'The Fall of he House of Usher' by Edgar Allan Poe. Nothing that original as it has become almost dull because countless bands have already overused the themes from both, Edgar Allan Poe and as well of H.P. Lovecraft, so I think that it's time to finally search for some other artists and thematics, there are many out there. But ok, I can understand why, as those authors offer a wide array of dark/horror themed things that must be very appealing to create such concepts based on their works.

Now, Aeternitas on their new album which clocks in around one hour doesn't offer anything really new or groundbreaking, but still this combo which consists of seven talented musicians created an album that is interesting enough to give it some credits. Yes, this is primarly symphonic metal with strong gothic metal influence, you'll hear in there many interesting complex orchestrations that are quite intriguing, compositions are often highly dynamic because of many groovy parts. Everything is centered around both vocalist, the captivating and emotive female vocals of Alma Mathar and nice clean yet strong male vocals by Oliver Bandmann. Some duets are simply breathtaking, romantic and catchy as hell. The compositions are mostly very melodic, the atmosphere is quite haunting, especially when some gloomy keys and choirs come into the picture, like in "Tears" or in "The Fall", but you'll find in here also tracks that have more in common with the legacy of 80s heavy metal or hard rock, like it's the groovy "Roderick" for example. Then I was quite seduced by emotional piano driven popy ballad "Madeline", it has such a catchy refrain, and as well when the band goes darker and heavier, in "Fear" for example, the ambiance becomes very dense because of very rich and intense instrumentation. Here and there you'll have an opportunity to hear some nice guitar leads, while the rhythmic line is keeping the momentum strong and intense throughout the whole album. The duet between Alma and Oliver in one of the albums highlights, rather doomy/sympho/pop piece "Forbidden Love" gives some shivers down the spine, as well in semi acoustic "The Haunted Palace", or in the nicely building up romantic groover "Buried Alive", and absolutely I can't forget to mention the mesmerizing heavy hitting gothic metal piece "Falling Star". Then of course I can't go past well inserted dark electronics and use of classical instrumentation that deepens and implement the atmosphere at certain parts. Actually every single song has something to offer that should lift up the darkened romantic spirit in those who appreciate nicely composed melodic catchy yet haunting symphonic metal with gothy atmospheres and sweet pop accessibility which gives to this album certain replay value.

On this new release Aeternitas offers a lot to enjoy for those who like to hear some unpretentious symphonic metal with good vocals and enjoyable instrumentation in the vein of Anette Olzon's solo work, Nightwish, Delain, Xandria, Sirenia, Within Temptation, early Leaves Eyes and similar bands, but unfortunately it still doesn't come forth with anything really breathtaking that should satisfy more demanding listeners. I have also some second thoughts about the production, I don't know if it's just the sound on the promo album, but I think that, if this is what it is, the sound should be more clean, thick and deep to offer a bit more of an intense experience. But still, House Of Usher is a solid album, one of better releases inside this genre released lately and I think that every single fan of aforementioned bands and genres should give it a careful listen.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 7,5/10