Aeternus was formed by Ares (vocals, guitars) in 1993 in Bergen, Norway, since when the band have combined Black and Death Metal in the genre known as Dark Metal, which also bring in elements of classical and folk music. They have had multiple different line-ups over the years, moving between trios and quartets, with 2018’s ‘Heathen’ recorded by Ares along with bassist Eld (Gaahls Werd, Gravdal, Phantom Fire) and drummer Phobos (Gravdal, Trollberg). Since that release they have added an additional guitarist in Gorm (Thyruz), so this is the first release as a quartet since 2003’s ‘A Darker Monument’. So much for the history lesson, what is the album like?

Fairly basic it must be said. Rooted in black metal, Aeternus appear to be stuck in the quandary of not being quite sure what they want to achieve and are hoping for the next idea to come along, except it doesn’t. The highlight of the whole album is actually the introduction to “Void of Venom” where the gently picked guitars last for more than 90 seconds, building emotion and depth, and then we move into blackened death which show promise yet never really delivers. However, this is preferable to the likes of “The Intentionality of Unitigated Evil” whereby far the best thing about it is the title (actually, they have some really nice song titles on the album), as it ponders along not sure if it is going to slow down enough to be considered doom or speed up some more to provide the menace of black metal or death. They released their first six albums in 9 years, and now only three in 10, and I am sure fans will be pleased to have another release, but I cannot see myself returning to it again.

Rating: 6/10