Aeternum Sacris - Haunting Like a Ghost
Self Release
Funeral Doom
5 songs (43' 33")
Release year: 2012
Reviewed by Andy
Archive review

Japanese funeral doom project Aeternum Sacris's first EP, Haunting Like a Ghost, is free, so it's rather hard to argue that one has lost anything by checking it out even if it turned out not to be great. This little one-man band, founded in 2009 by a gentleman appropriately pseudoym'd Sacris, operated for years without turning out anything more than demos and singles, but Haunting Like a Ghost goes a fair way towards being a full album; even as an EP, one gets 43 minutes of metal dirges similar to those produced by Mournful Congregation or The Howling Void. I just gave this one a listen (hence my review of a release that happened a year ago), and though it has a few flaws, I can heartily recommend it to any funeral doom devotee.

Die and Let Live is a whispery, sibilant piece. The clean vocals are whispered, the drums are cymbal- and hi-hat-heavy, and even the death metal growls are toned way down, less growls than background hissing blending with the high, ethereal synth on top of the guitars. The musical arrangement is nice and the atmosphere exquisite, except for the drumming. For some reason, it doesn't seem to be synchronized quite right with the rest of the instruments on an early part of the track, and it ruins the atmosphere. True, this is a guy who quite possibly did this whole thing in a home studio, but drumming has been something that a number of one-man bands in the extreme metal world have been smart enough to outsource to a partner or studio musician who knows the instrument better, and the lack of such a person hurts Sacris's effort occasionally, especially on the clumsy fills. The synths, and especially the guitar, are floridly mixed, especially on the following The King of the Ants, which uses a few synth lines that would seem corny if not for the fine mixing job. The guitar isn't boring at all, either, something that is always a danger in funeral doom; it plays long, sustained chords as one would expect, but it also breaks off into chugging power chords, high, screeching overdubbed melody lines, and duet tradeoffs with the ever-present synth.

The Downward Spiral is a softer, more introspective piece with ringing guitar and a rather beautiful female background vocalist towards the end; the aforementioned drumming problems didn't stand out either, making this one probably my favorite song on the album. She Is a Ghost, though with similar elements, was heavier and did precisely the opposite for me, as the guitar chugging at the beginning often seemed to be off-beat from the drumming. The clean vocals on this one are nice, however; still dim and in the background, Sacris puts in a fine performance with coldly soft singing over the ringing guitar line and somewhat overwhelming distortion. Finally, we have The Secret in Their Eyes, an almost anthemic piece with the synth even higher-pitched than usual, a simple but effective melody, and a hissing death metal vocal line. A third of the way through the track, it sounds like it's fading out, when it comes back with a regretful-sounding piano and synth section and harmonizing guitars. I loved the effect -- like a theatrical funeral consisting of a series of acts.

It's easy to see the flaws on Haunting Like a Ghost, but Sacris's raw talent as an amateur is undeniable. The man knows how to make funeral doom and mix a song, for sure -- I just wish he was better at rhythm, the lack of which ability significantly reduces the effectiveness of his work. If he can fix his rhythm problems, one expects to see great things from him. While we wait, though, Haunting Like a Ghost is still quite enjoyable to listen to.

Link to full album right here.

Killing Songs :
The Downward Spiral, The Secret in Their Eyes
Andy quoted 74 / 100
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