Artist: Eternal Storm
Album Title: A Giant Bound To Fall
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Date of Release: 16 February 2024
During one of my casual, late evening trawls through the promos available to me, I hovered the cursor over the artwork for ‘A Giant Bound To Fail’, the sophomore album from Spanish melodic death metal band, Eternal Storm. Having not heard the band’s 2019 debut, ‘Come The Tide’, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect but, trusting the track record of Transcending Obscurity Records and as a fan of a bit of melodeath, I decided to take a listen. It took exactly eighteen seconds to realise I might have made a good decision. It took one minute and twenty-eight seconds to realise that I could be listening to something very special indeed. It has taken the last week or two to now determine that we are faced with a very genuine early ‘Album Of The Year’ candidate. No hyperbole, just plain, honest truth. Intrigued? Read on…
‘A Giant Bound To Fall’ is sensational. The end.
Ok, ok, I can’t leave it there and you’d never let me, so let’s delve a little deeper and uncover the reasons for my excitement with this release, courtesy of core trio of Daniel R. Flys (lead vocals, guitars, keys, bass), Jaime Torres (guitars, vocals, keys, bass, fretless bass) and Daniel Magnato (bass, guitars, vocals)
When you kick off the album with a thirteen-minute epic, it’s a brave move by anyone’s standards. However, as you may have surmised from the opening paragraph above, ‘An Abyss Of Unreason’ isn’t a misstep in the slightest. Instead, it makes an immediate impression and has become a bona fide ‘song of the year’ contender. The sound of waves washing upon the shore are joined beautifully by some ethereal synth sounds and at the eighteen second mark, a gorgeous clean guitar enters, delivering a simple but devastatingly poignant and irresistible melody whilst the waves still inexorably lap.
Out of the abyss then marches frenetic double-pedal-led drumming at the hands of session drummer Gabriel Valcázar that grows in volume until the eighty-eight second point when the track explodes. This is atmospheric, melodic death metal of the highest order, a heartbreakingly stunning melody created by fast-picked riffing doing battle with a fast, unrelenting blast beat and swathes of atmospheric keys.
This initial assault lasts only a short time before it falls away to be replaced by a momentary ambience before full-on aggression ensues, topped off by some savage but deep growls. Here comes that melody again, to make my heart ache, whilst we are treated to multiple vocals. For the remainder of the song, the listener is put through the emotional wringer as Eternal Storm effortlessly juxtapose light and shade to dramatic and poignant effect, summoning emotions from despair to frustration and from solemn contemplation to all-out anger. In order to keep things fresh and interesting, the song deviates frequently, veering off into a strange period of barely controlled cacophony before pulling itself back onto the straight and narrow courtesy of some expansive riffing. The clean choral vocals that evoke a sense of the epic are pure Omnium Gatherum without sacrificing their identity, whilst the gentle dreamy passage that signals the beginning of the end of the track is a thing of minimalist, ethereal beauty. If my description has captured even half of the magic within this composition, then I think you’ll agree it sounds like one hell of a start to this record.
Where can Eternal Storm go from here, after such a blistering start?
‘A Dim Illusion’ immediately answers the question or, more accurately, the bass of Daniel Maganto does, as the song begins with a pulsing bass line and swathes of synths, lending the track an initial Gothic feel. It’s soon replaced by a more straight-forward melodeath mid-tempo stomp with Katatonia-like lead guitar lines overlaying the muscular riffing. The gruff vocals, featuring a guest appearance from Aborted’s Sven de Caluwé, are deep and aggressive, providing that extra menacing edge. As with its predecessor, the song is bathed in melancholic atmosphere and there are quiet passages to dissect the heaviness. And then, there’s the truly epic lead break that ushers in a quite exceptional anthemic mid-song crescendo of melodeath beauty where more clean choral vocals and a section of spoken word both make an appearance.
One contender for ‘song of the year’ is enough surely, but two on the same album, an album that only contains nine individual tracks in the first place? You’d better believe it, thanks to ‘There Was A Wall’. The opening sequence, with more delicate melody, gorgeous bass, and dripping with elegant misery, pushes the opener every step of the way in the battle to shatter our hearts into a thousand pieces. It’s a much shorter piece at just over the five-minute mark, but it uses that time to weave a majestic sonic tapestry that threatens to break me. The lead guitar solo and breaks are divine, singing to the heavens in abject hopelessness, whilst the plaintive clean multi-layered vocals bring me close to tears.
Speaking of tears, I defy anyone to listen to ‘Eclipse’ without welling up. As with other tracks, the opening is quiet and atmospheric but this time, it’s a piano that plays the initial fragile melody which, within the fullness of time, is joined by other electronic sounds and embellishments which convey the feeling of utter solitude and loneliness. When the guitar joins in, I’m a bit of a mess as it weaves its sensitive tapestry, and even at the end when the track livens up just a touch, that sense of melancholy remains.
‘Lone Tree Domain’ is another typically dark and solemn composition, but it again delivers some delicious melodies and, towards the end in particular, it offers an almost uplifting, bittersweet sense of hope within the despair felt elsewhere. On the other side of the coin is ‘The Sleepers’ which has a rich and deep doom feel to it but with some explosive and extreme aspects, akin to some of the Finnish masters of the death/doom metal scene. But as ever, the scintillating, irresistible melodies remain.
I could go through every single song on ‘A Giant Bound To Fail’, but for once, I’m going to keep this review a little briefer than perhaps it could be. And that’s because there seriously isn’t a wasted track, or even a wasted moment within any of the tracks. Plus, it might be fun to let you uncover the remainder for yourselves because I guarantee your faces will either be open-mouthed in awe or twisted into something approximating ecstasy. Eternal Storm have created an utterly breathtaking album in ‘A Giant Bound To Fall’. It might be a little too long for some at around the seventy-minute mark and I’d normally be one of those. But I honestly and truly cannot even begin to think of a single moment that could or should be cut from this album. It is a damn-near perfect dark melodic death metal album, one with which I can find very little whatsoever to fault. I adore it and I know you will too. Devastatingly brilliant – thank you, Eternal Storm, thank you very much.
The Score of Much Metal: 98%