Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Eternal - When The Circle Of Light Begins To Fade

The Eternal
When The Circle Of Light Begins To Fade
Sombre Light Music/Rocket Distribution

If the last ten years of listening to The Eternal have taught me anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Sure, the Melbourne based outfit have created a sound and style that’s their own, and each and every one of their four studio releases to date have always maintained that unique sound. But with every album, The Eternal has always pushed their sound forward, which in turn has meant that while a new album from The Eternal is everything you would expect from the band, there’s always something new to discover - The Eternal has never made the mistake of making the same album twice.
It’s been a long two and a half years since the release of their last effort ‘Under A New Sun’,  – the band’s rather experimental effort alongside co-producer Jeff Martin (The Tea Party/The Armada vocalist) – and once again, the passing of time has seen the band reshuffle their line-up, with guitarist Brad Cook and guest keyboardist Martin Curtis-Powell (Cradle Of Filth/My Dying Bride/Anathema) joining the long established line-up of vocalist/guitarist Mark Kelson, bassist Dave Langlands and drummer Marty O’Shea. And it’s this new look five piece line-up that now presents us with the band’s highly anticipated fifth full-length release ‘When The Circle Of Light Begins To Fade’.
The opening track ‘Circle Of Light’ immediately marks a return of the sound that fans have come to expect from The Eternal, with the song boasting a rich mix of atmospheric keyboards and piano, crushing riffs and Kelson’s towering vocals. The guitar interplay between Kelson and Cook is quite prominent around the latter half of the track where the two trade off between guitar sounds to great effect, while the middle eastern keyboard influences of the band’s more recent past (‘Under A New Sun’) have been toned down considerably to give the song a bit of texture, rather than be the guiding force. In short, ‘Circle Of Light’ is exactly what you would expect from The Eternal, but with the song portraying a depth of sound that’s directly attributed to those within the group.
The first single ‘Beneath These Waves’ is a perfect example of where The Eternal are sound wise these days, with the band’s mix of classic rock fused perfectly with elements of up-beat doom and middle eastern influences, while O’Shea’s presence here gives the song a much needed punch of the rhythmic side of the musical equation.
Backing vocalist Emily A. Saaen’s contribution to the choruses of the gloomy mid-paced rockers ‘Motionless’ and ‘Drifting’ are well done, as too the subtle piano/keyboard work throughout the tracks (Particularly on the former). But what really makes the songs stand out is the overall tone of the dual rhythm guitars and the inclusion of a guitar solo that stands apart from the song itself. Guitars have always played a part in The Eternal, but they’ve rarely sounded as distinctive as they have on this album.
In terms of favourites, ‘In Severance’ is a real highlight with its faster tempo, great melodies and extended guitar solos, while on ‘Yesterday’s Fire’, ‘Without A Trace’ (Which again features Saaen on backing vocals) and ‘Carry Us Away’, Kelson shows how he can shape what appears to be a simple melody into a song that comes across as emotive, epic sounding and truly memorable.
While the middle eastern influences heard on ‘Under A New Sun’ have taken a backseat for the most part on this new album, that’s not to say that they’ve completely disappeared, as both ‘A Quiet Death Of The Sun’ and ‘Dark Day Coming’ feature elements of the band’s more recent sound. But unlike the past, the songs don’t lose any of their identity, with the said influences playing a supporting role (Predominantly from the Powell’s keyboards) rather than being the guided force. Whereas on ‘Under A New Sun’ the experimentation was a little too heavy handed at times, it works really well here in giving the songs a bit of extra character and depth.
Finishing up the album is the lengthy mid-paced doom tinged rocker closer ‘The Burning Truth’, which is a typical closing effort for The Eternal with its epic feel, memorable guitar solos and Kelson and Saaen’s rich layered vocals and strong melodies.
The Eternal have never been the sort of band to stand in the one place for any great length of time, as each and every one of their studio releases have shown. And as expected, ‘When The Circle Of Light Begins To Fade’ is no exception.
This year marks the band’s tenth anniversary, and I can’t imagine a more befitting celebration of this than with the release of what is truly one of the band’s finest releases to date.

For more information on The Eternal, check out - http://www.the-eternal.com/

© Justin Donnelly