The Pestilent Plague
The mutually inclusive worlds of black metal and death metal have morphed into and out of one another — and other, more-disparate genres — in the past three years that you’d be well within your wits to be confused about which is which. Case in point: In Aeturnum’s The Pestilent Plague. Currently being marketed as a death-metal record, the Swedish band’s second album, on the one hand, sounds like a mix of black-metallers Marduk and Enslaved: Operating between blast-beat fast and incomprehensibly fast(er), In Aeturnum seem uncomfortable at any tempo where you can actually count the beats, forever waiting for that sweet, sweet chance to kick into warp speed (the former), but stripped of that band’s bedeviled atmosphere; likewise, their buzz(saw)ing riffs are comprised of simple chord changes always between the middle and upper reaches of the fretboard, lending a certain triumphant air to them (the latter), but similarly stripped of that band’s overt Viking leanings. On the other hand, however, The Pestilent Plague sounds like any handful of recent tracks by death-metal stalwarts Hypocrisy blast-beaten and buzz-sawed (there’s that word again [radical] get the picture?) beyond belief; ironically, Hypocrisy mainman Peter Tägtgren’s brother, Tommy, produced the album in his famed Abyss Studios, and, not surprisingly, sounds as much. And the vocals? Well, again, In Aeturnum walks that paper-thin line between black metal and death metal, vocalist/guitarist David Larsson’s snarls straddling both worlds much like his music does; for reference, only Angelcorpse and their vocalist/guitarist Peter Helmkamp really approach In Aeternum’s sinister style musically and vocally, respectively.
So, is The Pestilent Plague black metal? Not really — it lacks that elusive something (general frostiness, maybe?) that makes, say, any given record by Gorgoroth or Immortal “black metal.” Is it death metal, then? Not really, either — the album lacks the low-end grumble of the post-Tampa school and the melodic flair of the post-Gothenburg camp to really qualify it as “death metal.” Confusing? You bet. Any good? You can bet on that, too — in two words, fuck semantics.
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