Candlelight Records (2004), Hammerheart Records
1999 / 2004
Release length: 50:11
2004 Reissue Length: 1:10:33
The main thing going for Shadows of Old is the fact that the band still carried over their Black Metal ideals to the album, and it really does show in the music performed on it. Thanks to this darker atmosphere, the album takes on a whole other presence outside of just a typical Death Metal act. There still lingers some Black Metal-style riffs, which can be found on plenty of the tracks on here, such as on “Dark Rage”, which really ushers in what could be considered a dark, almost gothic feel to the music. While the band doesn’t really offer much to keep many of the songs too complex or highly entertaining, this atmosphere in the music, as well as the way the vocals are performed, being a little bit in the background, as if recorded from a distance, add a haunting, if not spiritual aspect to the album as well. This is showcased quite well in the song “Resurrection”, which varies in speed between fast and slow with plenty of changes to the song in the way the guitars and drums are played to keep the listener attentive until the end.
Sadly, for as much of a stand out track as “Resurrection” is, it’s also one of the tracks on here that really shows off the faults of the album. The main fault of this release is that, musically, the band is either constantly changing direction while in the song to the point where you would be lost easily if not paying attention, or just feels as if the song had sections tacked on to make the track length longer. The latter happens to be the plague of this song, as once you get past the half way point of the song, pushing around three minutes, the song will start to loose it’s charm thanks to the constant changing of music. As you reach the end of the song, the music picks up into a more straight forward Death Metal track, completely losing the atmosphere that makes this release really stand out, and actually clashes with the rest of the song with a more amateurish sound then anything. Had the song simply closed before this part, it would have been a fantastic track, but sadly, it simply did not.
Another issue this release has is that, after a while, the album just isn’t all that interesting. While Shadows of Old does manage to keep each track unique and avoid repetition, there’s just plenty of songs on this release that feel like filler material, as well as just drawn out through the aforementioned tacking on of moments, as well as just drawing some aspects out to the point of just hitting the skip button. “Prophecy of the Elder Reign” is a nice, slow paced song but after the three minute mark you’re about ready to throw in the towel as the song really doesn’t bring anything too exciting to the mix, and by that time it’s just drawn out by the same riff for too long a time. And just when you think the song is over, it goes into a very simple keyboard section that continues the song, making you think it may be over, but it simply isn’t as it goes right back into yet another change of music with acoustic guitars against drums and vocals. Much of this track is just not necessary, and the song overall is just filler. The same can be said for “The Sunset’s Glory”, which is an instrumental bag-pipe piece, but even though it is it’s own track on the album, it feels as if “Prophecy of the Elder Reign” is still going, ultimately coming off as overkill. Had “Prophecy of the Elder Reign” just not been included on the final product, then this would have been a more fitting climax to the album instead of just coming off as overkill.
The 2004 reissue through Candlelight Records features four bonus tracks which are, for the most part, completely devoid of everything that made much of Shadows of Old stand out. While “Midnatt Storm” features some of the same kind of ambience found ont his release, the song actually fades out so insanely quick you’ll think your speakers committed suicide or something. And then you have “Raven and Blood” which honestly just sounds like the same song as “Midnatt Storm” just with different progressions now and then. “Burning the Shroud” is a completely straight forward Death Metal track, and is actually a good song, but really doesn’t show much in the line of talent that the band has, and after sitting through fifty minutes of a specific atmospheric Death Metal album with Black Metal influences thrown in, it’s hard to sit through this song. However, if you acknowledge it as something other then on this release, and look at the song by it’s self, it is rather enjoyable. And then, there’s the last track, “Fire and Wind”, which is actually a very deep sounding song, more then likely a demo track given the more raw production quality it has, which is actually far more enjoyable then half the material on this release, proving that sometimes a raw recording can really work in an album’s favor as the raw sound really enhances the atmosphere the band was going for with this release.
While Shadows of Old by Aeternus is far from a terrible album, it’s also not one of the most well embraced either, and for good reason. Constant changes to the music itself within the songs, as well as drawn out moments and tacked on filler makes this release an album that had plenty of promise, and probably should have just stuck to being an transitional release grounded as an EP instead of a full-length release. If you are a fan of the older releases by this band, then the first three songs on here will definitely be of your interest to check out. However, after “Resurrection”, the album becomes hit and miss with plenty of filler when not necessary. Luckily this is still a solid release that will draw you back for a few spins, even if “Prophecy of the Elder Reign” into “The Sunset’s Glory” wind up being too much at the end.
01. Under the Eternal Blackened Sky – 5:03
02. Descent to the Underworld – 6:54
03. Dark Rage – 8:03
04. Resurrection – 5:41
05. The Summoning of Shadows – 6:05
06. Death’s Golden Truth Revealed – 5:36
07. Cuchulain – 5:45
08. Prophecy of the Elder Reign – 7:04
|Overall Score: 5/10
2004 Reissue Score: 5.5/10
Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.