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Somnus Aeternus : On the Shores of Oblivion

The doomy, cinematic Metal on Somnus Aeternus’ debut album shows some promise and originality, but ultimately fails to captivate.

The Czech six-piece Somnus Aeternus are a strange band. Their debut album On the Shores of Oblivion, released last year on Solitude Productions, cannot be categorised easily and doesn’t sound quite like any other band, and yet much of it feels somewhat bland. Even though Solitude is clearly a Doom Metal label, the music on this release is neither emotional nor crushing and does not really correspond to any known subgenre of Doom, nor does it stick to the characteristics of Doom in general. In fact, apart from the closing track and some doomy riffing in “Of the Bond”, it is hard to detect any such characteristics at all. What is this, then?

If we absolutely needed to force it into a subgenre, it would be Death Doom since almost all vocals are growled and there certainly is a strong Death Metal influence present, especially in the second half. But for the most part, one cannot help but wonder where the Doom is in all of it: the songs, all of which are fairly short, are way too dynamic and fast to be considered proper Doom. On the other hand, there isn’t enough aggression and technical intricacy to label this Death Metal, either. The midtempo compositions often seem to wander aimlessly through a no-man’s-land in between the two genres with the journey being its own reward. For whatever the style, On the Shores of Oblivion does have a strange appeal to it. The dark atmosphere combines well with the arrangements to which the vocals add some extra dynamics, and with all their ingredients in place, the musicians sometimes manage to evoke a cinematic sense of drama as though they had conceived the album as the score to an apocalyptic film. In this respect, the album sometimes sounds more like Gothic Metal, but without the baroque pomp and clean vocals. The most effective element in all of this is certainly the good piano work which is used consistently throughout the entire album, constituting the band’s core trademark and providing a sense of identity. Unfortunately, though, the rest of the instrumental work falls short; especially the guitars are very basic and hence particularly disappointing. There are some good lead guitar parts, but they are far too scarce.

And this is where the problem begins: generally, there are too few captivating ideas to maintain the momentum over the entire playing time. The overall sound and composition style are very homogeneous throughout the album, and after the initial interest in the band’s promising approach, listeners find but few moments that can attract their attention anew, for instance the calm intro of “The Light at the End of the Suffering” as well as a great Melodic Death riff combined with an unusual synth line in the same song. In “A Touch of Insanity”, a well-placed rhythm change adds some extra variation. In a compressed form, the total of ideas would probably have been enough for a strong EP, but even then, the singular nature of the music would have made it difficult to determine whom to recommend it to. Such bands are often the most interesting ones, though, and Somnus Aeternus definitely show promise and potential, especially due to their original piano use and their defiance of established genres. Right now, I would consider them a band that are just beginning to explore their potential and find their own sound. Let us give them their time and see what they’ll come up with next…

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Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Withering Attachment
2. Decrepitus
3. Few More Pictures Till Death
4. Of the Bond
5. The Light at the End of the Suffering
6. A Touch of Insanity
7. Purgatorium
8. The Divine Void
9. Everything Else Is a Lie
10. Sinthesis

Duration : Approx. 47 minutes

Visit the Somnus Aeternus bandpage.

Reviewed on 2013-09-02 by Dominik Sonders
Rotten Copper
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