Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Eternal - Under A New Sun

The Eternal
Under A New Sun
Sombre Light Music/Green Distribution

Following on from their highly successful ‘Kartika’ album from 2008, and having survived the rigours of their world tour that followed soon after its release (Which was documented on last year’s D.V.D. ‘Kartika World Tour 2009’), Melbourne (Victoria, Australia) based outfit The Eternal are back with their eagerly anticipated fourth full-length effort ‘Under A New Sun’.
As expected, ‘Under A New Sun’ sees The Eternal (Comprising of vocalist/guitarist Mark Kelson, bassist Dave Langlands, Finnish keyboardist Maria Ilmoniemi and drummer Marty O’Shea) once again taking their sound into new territory, with co-producer Jeff Martin (Ex-The Tea Party/The Armada) helping the band to broaden the sound that was previously only hinted at on ‘Kartika’.
The opening track ‘Control’ is quick to announce something new from the band, with the song’s heavier and darker vibe on vocal front marking a real departure in sound from what you would normally expect from the band. But despite this, the song itself does retain enough elements of The Eternal’s old sound to stay within the region of familiarity, which helps give the album a solid starting point.
The title track ‘Under A New Sun’, which is the first single/promotional video clip lifted from the album, sees the band fully embracing the classic rock sound of their former album and taking it to a whole realm. Martin’s influences on the track are undeniable in terms of the production sounds and in Kelson’s vocals (He sounds unmistakably like Martin for the most part), but the lush multi-layered backing vocals and the middle-eastern sounding keyboards/Mellotron help give the song enough character to stand out on its own.
The slower paced ‘Delirium & Desire’ is perhaps a little more traditional sounding from The Eternal, with the subtle choir effects and the sweeping guitar solo giving the song a slightly different feel, while ‘Nothing Remains Without Us’ seems to shift between a sound that is part The Tea Party (On the verses) and the band themselves (On the choruses), resulting in a song that is good, if a little confused at the same time. ‘Eclipse’ on the other hand is a dark and aggressive tune, and one that could easily slot alongside the opener as one reminiscent of The Eternal’s work of the past.
Of course, The Eternal couldn’t have Martin produce the new album without having him make a guest appearance somewhere. And the song where Martin’s biggest contribution can be heard is on ‘The Sleeper’. The semi-acoustic ballad-like tune is exactly the sort of song you would expect from a collaboration between The Eternal and Martin, and therefore stands out on the album, even if Kelson’s vocals are a little overshadowed by Martin’s deep and booming vocal presence for the most part.
Despite its simplicity and general sparseness of sound, ‘A Thousand Shades Of You’ is a definite highlight from the latter half of the album, while the straightforward rock drive of ‘Collapse’ is an absolute stunner, and sure to become a clear favourite in the set list in time to come.
The slower paced ‘Despondency’ is fairly traditional territory for The Eternal, and could have easily found itself a place on the band’s first couple of releases without sticking out too much, while ‘Cast In Stone’ (Which first appeared in remix form on the ‘Under A New Sun’ single) is another classic rock effort, with the addition of sweeping keyboards, huge choral backing vocals and subtle middle eastern efforts giving the song a huge epic vibe throughout.
But if there’s one song that really stands out as a personal favourite, it’s the closer ‘Departure’. It’s here that Kelson really indulges more in his atmospheric progressive influences, with his guitar work in particular revealing an unmistakable David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) influence. ‘Departure’ is something completely different to anything the band has ever produced before, and I can only hope that it’s something they will embellish upon sometime in the future. All up, it’s a stunning closing effort.
What was only hinted at on ‘Kartika’, The Eternal have mastered on ‘Under A New Sun’. The band’s latest effort is by far their most diverse and varied sounding release to date, and while Martin’s influence does tend to dominate in places, there’s no mistaking that ‘Under A New Sun’ is The Eternal’s most accomplished piece of work yet.

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© Justin Donnelly