4 tracks – Duration: 20 min.
This band goes way back in time. In a distant past, I reviewed ETERNAL AUTUMN’s ‘The Storm’ (1998). That album contained the killer track ‘Autumn Opus No 1’, which really blew me away back then – and it still does to this date. The fifth printed edition of ‘The Throne of Absence’ (1999 – damn, I am old) also contained an interview with this Swedish melodic Death Metal combo that formed in 1993. As an answer to one of the many -admittedly not so original- questions, John indicated he was not so fond of name dropping, however, you will soon see I cannot resist doing so myself… After the release of their second full length ‘From the Eastern Forest’ (2000), the band split up in 2001, but they resurrected in 2017 (RETURNAL AUTUMN! *ba dum tsss*). The line-up was reduced down to two members. I always admire how a duo (also think ROYAL BLOOD) can build a wall of sound like that on their own, impressive.
‘The Werewolf Diaries’ is an EP consisting of 4 enjoyable & balanced compositions. It kicks off with ‘Behold the Dead’. The opening riff triggers a similar adrenaline rush as when listening to SLAYER’s ‘Evil Has No Boundaries’, BATHORY’s ‘Hades’ or 1349’s ‘Sculptor of Flesh’. DESASTER meets AT THE GATES (‘Terminal Spirit Disease’ era) in the barking vocals. Whereas the first half of the song is quite aggressive and fast, having an almost Black/Thrash sound in the vein of DESTRÖYER 666 & BEWITCHED yet cleaner & way more polished, the second half evolves into a hybrid of melodic Death Metal and traditional Heavy Metal, complete with pinch harmonics, mesmerizing leads and skilled solos.
The first 15 seconds of ‘Midwinter Rage’ are reminiscent of IMMORTAL’s ‘At the Heart of Winter’ era, after which the gas pedal is released and the song continues at a relaxing cadence with a dreamy tune & some keyboard strokes that could have come from WINTERSUN or AMORPHIS. A threatening piano intermezzo announces a couple of fascinating guitar solos, and as a grand finale, John shouts ‘We Shall Return!’, followed by an explosion of instruments, just like you would hear them at the end of a good, sweaty concert.
‘Shadowride’ very briefly threads the path of DISSECTION’s Metal of Death, and gradually hypnotizing melodies fully gain control over the song once again, alternating between riffs to bang your head to and melancholic leads, supported by mid-paced drum beats, including some double-bass kicks.
In the middle of ‘The Sixth Hour’, there are some seventies hard rock riffs like GHOST B.C. would produce them nowadays. This track is stuffed with ETERNAL AUTUMN’s trademark harmonies and flashing solos as well.
Plenty is happening in each song, serving the purpose of variation, while never turning too hectic, thanks to well-composed structures and controlled pace. ETERNAL AUTUMN plays melodic Swedish Death Metal with NWOBHM influences, however, do not expect the typical Swedish melodeath sound or a shameless clone of DARK TRANQUILLITY, THE CROWN, GATES OF ISHTAR, or SCHEITAN, as they genuinely do have their own style in which melody is key yet still having a rough enough edge,
As a finishing touch, the book ‘Varulven i svensk folktradition’ by Ella Odstedt served as inspiration for the lyrics on this EP, and Henrik Gallon, a Swedish tattoo artist, took care of the stylish black & white frontside, on which a tree is reflecting in the eye of a dragon (?). Classy!
To conclude, instead of wasting your time reading this lousy review, in which I am trying hard to compare an uncomparable & refreshing band with the aforementioned bands, you’d better listen and judge for yourself. ‘The Werewolf Diaries’ is a tasty release, which is worth 20 minutes of pure & honest entertainment that makes you crave for more. I do look forward to a full-length in the future (and ‘Autumn Opus No 2’). Good wine needs no bush.
8 of 10 skulls