TALES OF THE GROTESQUE
Released: June 29, 2018
Aeternitas is back with a brand new album, “Tales of the Grotesque”, a collection of songs inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s poems and short stories. Formed in 1999 by Anja and Alex Hunzinger, the band released its debut album “Requiem” in 2000 and their sophomore effort “La Danse Macabre” in 2004. These two concept albums formed the base of the steady evolution of Aeternitas. The gothic musical “Rappacinis Tochter” (2009) was released in both DVD and CD format, and was performed more than 50 times. With their 2016 released “House of Usher”, which is based on Poe’s well-known short story, Aeternitas developed into a modern symphonic metal outfit.
Mixing symphonic orchestral arrangement with groovy guitar riffs, a deep gothic soundscape, and a well-balanced interplay of powerful female and male vocals, the 12 songs from “Tales of the Grotesque” are rocking and mid-paced, but still quite mellow and melodic, and above all thoroughly enjoyable. The orchestral parts are more well-done, without being too overcharged, while the guitar lines are just the right amount of heavy, and the drums are just so groovy and precise.
The tell-tale heart
Dream in a dream
Child of the darkness
Deus ex machina
A case of revenge
There’s a nice flow in the music as well, from the dramatic intro of “The tall-tale heart” all the way until the final notes of “A case of revenge”, though I wish the songs were a bit more theatrical and dramatic.
However, “The Raven” doesn’t evoke the same feelings of dread, fright and loss as the poem does, sounding quite happy and serene, reason why I wish they had used some deep death metal growls on the ‘nevermore’ parts, at least. Actually the same can be said about a many of the songs here as something seems to have been lost in the process of translating the stories to music. They don’t sound like Edgar Allan Poe at all. Guess what I am trying to say is that the atmosphere is to light for this to work out properly. I was expecting something more ‘doomy and gloomy’, like HIM’s Venus Doom (2007) album, that type of atmosphere would have been perfect for these stories. I can even imagine “The Raven” on the backdrop of the middle section of “Sleepwalking past hope”. What’s weird is that they kind of nailed it with “The Portrait”.
Still, I love how they transformed “Eldorado” and “Dream in a dream”, and Julia Marou’s vocals are incredibly melodic and emotive. In truth, she does a great job all though the album. The male vocals, on the other hand, don’t fit with the music all the time, and some songs would either be better without them (“The Bells”), or they were missing deeper, more resounding vocals from Oliver Bandmann (“The Raven”). Yet, there are some moments where Julia and Oliver’s vocal blend so well together, with “Eleonora” and “Annabel Lee” as good examples of these duets. There are some heavy cuts in here as well, like the energetic “Deus ex Machina”, and the darkly “Child of the Darkness”.
All in all, “Tales of the Grotesque” is a good gothic metal album, with some memorable moments and a few well-crafted songs, but lacking in terms of atmosphere and heaviness. It has a great premise, but a not-so-great execution.
Rating: 6.5 / 10
Julia Marou – Vocals
Oliver Bandmann – Vocals
Alex Hunzinger – Guitar, Growls & Backing Vocals
Anja Hunzinger – Keyboards
Daniel T. Lentz – Lead Guitar
Rick Corbett – Bass
Frank Mölk – Drums