AQUILUS — Griseus (review)

AQUILUS — Griseus album cover Album · 2011 · Symphonic Black Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Time Signature
Night bell...

Genre: symphonic black metal

Never having heard the music of the Australian one-man band before, I have seen Aquilus' music described as neoclassical folk music, and I honestly expected "Griseus" to be a really cheesy blend of Opus Atlantica and Yngwie Malmsten.

You can imagine my shock upon actually listening to the album, learning that it has absolutely nothing to do with neoclassicalism in the sense of Malmsten, Blackmore, Mattsson and all those other guitarists, and that there was very little folk music as well (actually, the only place where there is a real folk feel is towards the end of 'Latent Thistle'. Instead, the listener is treated to what is perhaps best described as symphonic black metal.

Making use of black metal style riffage, combined with occasional blastbeats and indecipherable harsh screamed and growled, Aquilus' sole member, Waldorf, definitely captures the spirit of black metal. Furthermore, the occasional thrash and death metal passages pop up every now and then alongside more doomy and gothic sections (the vocals are rich in reverb and not unlike what you hear in funeral doom metal and atmospheric black metal).

But metal is only half of the music on this release, as the tunes on this album also feature lush orchestral arrangements (performed on synths, I suspect), some of which accompany the metal instrumentation, and some of which are fully symphonic passages. At times, there is even a cinematic quality to the symphonic arrangements, and at all times, the music on "Griseus" is epic and atmospheric, and - I would say - an artistic success.

I think that the weak spot is the production, as there is a slight lack of equilibrium between the metallic and the symphonic. The symphonic elements are simply louder in the mix than the metallic ones. Now, this might be intentional, but I find it a bit of a shame.

Still, if you are looking for some quality symphonic black metal with lots of atmosphere and a truly epic and dark feel, then it is a good bet that you will find what you seek in Aquilus' "Griseus".
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