The circumstances are a little different for this one. I first heard about REIGN OF EREBUS back in 2001 when their debut Humanracist was released. I never got around to hearing it during that time, but their name stuck with me over the years. Occasionally I’d look them up and I remember seeing they had split in 2005 after releasing Inversion Principle the year before. I still never listened to their music. Recently they crossed my mind again so I did a checkup, and found that not only did they reform, but they also released a new album, De Morte Aeterna, just a couple months back in October. Its funny how these things happen, and I decided it was finally time to do this band justice and hear their material. My only regret is that it took me all these years to do so, because their unique style and sound is a worthy contribution to the Black Metal collective.
A direct assault begins with “As the Clouds Gather,” and I immediately noticed a clearer production compared to the first two albums. It still has a ruggedness to it, but not the usual lo-fi Black Metal sound. The riffs also show a technical proficiency that isn’t always so readily audible in Black Metal, and when combined with the high screams and double bass it’s tempting to compare this style to the grinding Death Metal of bands like ORIGIN. The Blackened intent is also clear, however, as darker melodies begin creeping in on “Doctrine of the Impious.” Dungeon effects transition into “Among Dreams of the Damned,” and this is where the Black Metal riffing comes to the forefront. At one point a wall of heavy guitar is darkened further with organ sounds and a subtle tremolo picked melody. “Beneath the Fires” starts with some heavy chugging riffs before taking a dark and dissonant turn that paves the way for more technical prowess. The Hellraiser sample also adds some amusement to this death trip of an album. Clean guitars appear with another spoken sample before ending the song with another memorable passage of brooding guitars and organs.
“And all shall Fade with Time” begins with a gloomy hook and melody before turning up the technical blackened fret work and psychedelic synths to conjure an imposing mass of energized darkness. It continues building with the added dynamic of layered clean and harsh vocals. These moments show that REIGN OF EREBUS knows how to get the most out of a riff. They let this dark energy build and develop but then move along before it gets old and overworked. The morphing of a grinding Death Metal sound into sinister and hallucinogenic Black Metal continues on “Nightmare of Being,” and another dark mass of tremolo picking reaches climactic heights on “Herald of my Descent.” The title track brings closure with a good dose of groove and a wall of cold riffing while clean vocals give the finale an epic touch.
The title translates to “The Death Eternal” which aptly describes the album’s main theme. It focuses on this and other grim topics while touching on others, like the importance of expanding the mind on “Nightmare of Being.” This song is about having no fear, how fear is just a creation of the mind, how our minds are often tricked by superstitions and irrationality, and how expanding the mind is key to seeing through these fears and irrational thoughts. An interview with Cthonian gives more insight into the album’s making and how some ancient theories inspired its portrayal of death. It’s always interesting to see how artists delve into different influences and use them to express meaningful concepts on their albums. Eventually I will have all the lyrics and be able to delve deeper into this one myself, but for now I will speculate that it seems to be about courageously facing the inevitability of death and, as the title track affirms, living with no regrets.
REIGN OF EREBUS is back in reinvigorated form, and I admit my shame in having taken so long to finally hear their work. I know De Morte Aeterna has already been out for a couple months but I felt it was worth going back to review. It has a clearer sound with riffs that are wild and varied enough to be compared with the more technical style of Death Metal, while the dark and menacing Black Metal aspects remain mercilessly at the core. Infuse this with some psychedelic elements and samples and you have one tripped out, grinding death ride. Their previous albums also utilize these elements and songwriting style and are worth checking out as well. Now I hope REIGN OF EREBUS can maintain a stable lineup and continue producing this brand of dark hallucinogenic, and riff-laden Black Metal.