Vera : Once The Eternal rose from the ashes of Australian doom metal band Cryptal Darkness. This outfit had caught our attention because Martin Powell (of My Dying Bride fame at that time, later in Anathema and Cradle Of Filth) added a guest appearance on violin. After changing their name, they evolved under guidance of Mark Kelson into melancholic, dreamy gothic metal, but the dark timbre has remained. The most recent album we have heard from the band was ‘Kartika’ in 2009, but damned, it seems that we have missed ‘Under A New Sun’ in January 2011. Thus, for us it became relatively silent around the band, although they regularly performed live in Australia and other far off places. And on the other hand we could enjoy ‘The Brink’ (2011) of Alternative 4, a cooperation between Kelson and Duncan Patterson.
On All Saints Day the fifth studio album ‘When The Circle Of Light Begins To Fade’ was released and Audiocave should assure a proper distribution in Europe. Let us cross our fingers that this is true, since this happens to be a must have for fans of all above mentioned bands. We find ourselves in a beloved circle of musicians that moves us time after time with emotional music. A bit dream-like, soaring and thoughtful, yet regaled with heavy guitars and compelling guitar solos. This album continues this approach, that’s for sure.
Mark Kelson is assisted by long time buddies Marty O’Shea on drums and bassist Dave Langlands. Guitarist Brad Cook is pretty new, but also Martin Powell is back to add a beautiful atmospheric and soaring zest to the songs with his keyboards and incidentally we can hear Emily Saaen for backing vocals. Her distorted collaboration on ‘Carry Us Away’ reminds us a bit of Portishead. This is more than one hour top notch melancholy on the highest level, compressed in accessible songs. It is hard to nail down some highlights, since they all contribute to the natural flow of the entire record. In addition to the enchanted outbursts in soloing where they really cut loose, guitars often have an oriental feel in which influences from The Tea Party might be mentioned. After all, The Eternal worked with Jeff Martin as producer for ‘Under A New Sun’. Vocals of Kelson are clean, but sometimes dusk from emotions, mostly rather smooth as well. In despite of this dreamy overtones, they know how to build up proper momentum in songs like the opener ‘Circle Of Light’, the ravishing ‘A Quiet Death Of The Sun’ and the heavy rocking ‘Yesterday’s Fire’. In ‘Dark Day Coming’ mandolin pops up and any orchestration adds a feeling of vast plains. Actually, a track like ‘Drifting’ could have been coming from the Anathema catalogue in the ‘Judgement’ era. In addition very beautiful piano intermezzos create a fragile moment from time to time. Be sure this is enchantment from the very beginning till the end! It is even better than ‘Kartika’ and a milestone in the history of the band. Let us hope that they will (soon) come our way again.