AQUILUS — Griseus (review)

AQUILUS — Griseus album cover Album · 2011 · Symphonic Black Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Black metal that draws influence from symphonic and even classical music, isn't anything new. In facts bands have been doing it since the early nineties. But with debut album Griseus (2011) Australian one man act Aquilus has taken that idea a step further, creating something quite extraordinary in the process.

The black metal here is an atmospheric brand of symphonic black metal. It's well crafted and powerful, but what sets Griseus apart from other symphonic black metal releases is the tendency to switch the metal off and suddenly delve into passages of pure classical music. I'm not talking cheap symphonic interludes, but actual classical. It's rather reminiscent of film score music actually. There's also a dash of dark folk thrown in here and there on the album too, which provides a further special touch to the proceedings. The use of acoustic guitars on the album certainly shouldn't be underestimated. Lone member Waldorf is clearly a talented composer and player, one who truly knows the meaning of how to be epic in such a way that others trying to achieve something as powerful as this should be put to shame. Griseus is one of those rare releases that has left me completely awestruck after the first listen and hasty repeats of the album have done nothing to diminish that. In fact I've played it no less than ten times before even finishing this review, and it's lost none of its impact. As soon as it finishes I want to play it all over again! It's a massive release too at only just shy of eighty minutes, and it still has that kind of effect on me. Times flies when you're having fun, and so do the best albums.

Though there are eight tracks on Griseus with lengths ranging between 5:35 and 17:30, you can't really take any one of them out of the package and expect to get the same effect as the whole release gives you. In essence this album may as well have been one long track because that's how it works best even with pauses between the compositions. The opener Nihil sets a good example of what the album is all about. It's an incredibly journey through Waldorf's influences. Not counting any of the shorter passages the main parts of the song take you through black metal first, then some classical and then some folk to finish. Whether the tracks are the shorter ones like Latent Thistle and The Fawn or longer epics like In Lands of Ashes and Night Bell, the music never fails to captivate. Griseus is, simply put, one of the best black metal albums I've ever heard. Which is really why this review has been do damn difficult to write, as nothing I can stay about it here will have half as much impact as checking the album out for yourself and, hopefully, being as blown away as I have been.
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