Originally formed by Hammer Horde drummer Jayson Cessna and guitarist Derik Smith and conceived of as a way to explore different pastures to their usual Viking stylings; out of it came Astralborne, self-releasing their album Eternity’s End back in 2019 but quickly snapped up for an international re-release by Prosthetic Records.
Lyrically the album deals centrally with the theme of death and offshoots of this, opening with the tolling of funeral bells and religious chanting before giving way to serene acoustic guitar and strings (‘Eulogy In Black’). First proper track ‘Attending The Funeral’ brings the riff, based around the opening melody from the intro and immediately picks up the pace. As a whole the band play homage to the forefathers of melodeath fused with thrasher elements, while vocalist Paul Fuzinski’s death growls are somewhat reminiscent of Amon Amarth.
The band employ Iron Maiden-esque dueling leads throughout (‘Transcendence of Flesh, ‘Paragon Amiss’) whereas ‘Centuries In Agony’ also brings melancholic leads with yearning melodies grounded by understated double bass work from Cessna.
Pacing on Eternity’s End veers between the mid-paced stomp of modern melodeath and breakneck thrashiness of the old-school, with hints of black metal thrown in for good measure, but it’s where the band let the instruments and melodies breathe that they’re truly at their best, such as on the the majestic and entirely instrumental ‘Inglorious 20XX’, with its opening ascending and descending arpeggios, leadwork that wouldn’t be out of place on early In Flames material and furious drumming.
There is an issue with self-editing and pacing - ‘Architect of Suffering’ is a tad overlong at a hair under seven and a half minutes and the title track clocks in at a mammoth 12:15, yet despite it making liberal use of softer instrumental passages that feel as if they could be closing out the record the band go on for another two tracks including bonus track ‘Hell Patrol’ (and is it really a bonus track if it comes as part of the standard edition of the record?)
When all’s said and done, Eternity’s End is a very promising record, chock full of thrashing guitar work, cavernous vocals and hooks big enough to ensnare the monsters of the deep, marking a promising start and a bludgeoning, rollocking good time for any melodeath aficionado.