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Aeternitas - House of Usher

Aeternitas – CD Review
House of Usher

Aeternitas – House of Usher

CD Info
Massacre Records
15 Tracks
English Lyrics
8.5 /10

Powerful drums and surrounding orchestration create an epic opening for Aeternitas’ latest album, House of Usher. “Le Coeur”, the opener, proves to be one of the best moments on this, Aeternitas’ fourth album; loosely based on the legendary Edgar Allan Poe short story, The Fall of the House of Usher.

Aeternitas the band, is named after the divine personification of eternity in the ancient world. Aeternitas is a German symphonic metal band made up of the talented: Alma Mather, on vocals; Stefan Baltzer, on bass; Frank Mölk, on drums; Alexander Hunzinger, on guitars and backing vocals; Daniel T. Lentz, on lead guitars; Anja Hunzinger, on keyboards; and Oliver Bandmann, on vocals.

House of Usher was produced, recorded and mixed by Alexander Hunzinger at Serpina Studio. It was mastered by Götz Kretschmann at Wonderland studio. Henning Basse produced the vocals at Vocalbase. The artwork was created by Kurt Wörsdorfer (a.k.a. Headcrime Artwork).

The title song, “House of Usher”, is the first chance we get to hear the beautiful vocals of Alma Mather, one of the best vocalists I have heard in a while. Then, unfortunately, Oliver Bandmann joins in as an echo to Mather’s vocals to take away the fun. His vocals sound as if he is off in the distance, like an echo. An echo that is forced and really unnecessary. I just wish they would have let Mather handle the vocals on this important, stage-setting start to the album.

“The Prophecy” features more of Mather’s vocals than Bandmann, and it is a relief. I cannot pin down a female vocalist with which to compare her vocals…and that is a good thing. On this track Bandmann’s vocals sound more powerful, and fill the soundscape well as an antagonist.

“Roderick” is Bandmann’s vocal limelight, full of power drums, bass, excellent supporting keys and surrounded by lead and backing guitars.

“Madeline” is Mather’s vocal showcase, full of piano and orchestration. This is the best song on the album. It has the power of a Disney film production. Wonderful.

“Fear” is dark and powerful, as you would expect. Full of crashing drums, bass, and grinding guitars. Only this band shows its prowess and balance by blending in excellent keyboards and percussion to balance and fill the soundscape. Mather and Bandmann trade vocals making this one of the best vocal plays between the two on the album. The drum assault, at 3 minutes in, is a wonderful surprise.

“Forbidden Love” is full of orchestration, keyboards and Mather’s excellent vocals. The vocal duet between Mather and Bandmann sounds great. Another of the best moments on this album.

On “The Haunted Palace” an acoustic guitar plays lead along with Mather’s soft opening vocals. Then, Bandmann’s vocals enter to take away the mystery and fun again. His vocals sound forced, not natural, like hers. Folks, not every song has to be a duet.

“Tears” begins with awesome keyboard sounds imitating falling teardrops. Choruses are used bringing more power and symphony to the soundscape. Mather’s vocals lift the production higher, while Bandmann’s vocals strain and pull the sound down.

“Falling Star” is more of the same. Unfortunately, they will not allow Mather a moment to shine…alone.

Ah, but I was wrong! They did allow for the possibility of Mather singing solo on “Open Your Eyes”. Mather finally gets the stage alone, along with some acoustic guitar, and we finally get to hear what could have been…Too late…I wish they had opened their eyes and ears sooner.

“Ethelred” returns to the familiar formula. Bandmann mixed with Mather. Well, at least we got one song before the album finished

Thankfully, all tracks are under 5 minutes in length. So you do not have enough time to get bored of any track. After four albums, this band shows its knowledge and ability to create true symphonic music full of passion, imagery, with choruses and orchestration, well beyond the simplicity of banging drums and grinding guitars. This is an album that should be listened to on headphones to appreciate the vast expanse of music that fits between the vocals.

Alma Mather’s vocals help this band to soar, but Bandmann keeps it from being interstellar. I know on this album he is supposed to be an antagonist, but his vocals sound whiny, not dark or ominous. With Mather alone, this could have been 10 out of 10. This band is too close to miss the upper echelon of symphonic prog metal. Change they must.