Breaking stereotypes, breaking barriers, and breaking your heart, this gothic metal band from South Korea have stuck around long enough to churn out a perfectly balanced third album. Though the only thing "gothic" in their sound are lotsa keyboards and slow tempos, 'Eternal' relies on the winning combination of melodies and hooks to see the listener through. 'Moonshine Madness' starts the ride in style by introducing the band's finest aural qualities: crystal clear production values, vibrant guitar play, and singer Amon's icy voice. The music casually sashays up to the album's first duet, '(We) Die Cold', where a chick named Paranoid shares the verses. On it, the contrasting vocals intertwine to the accompaniment of humming violins, a piano's soft notes, and a simple drumbeat. The guitars only come alive at the sing along chorus and the elegant solo near the end. 'True Heart' is just one of several chart-worthy singles on 'Eternal', though its unlikely this album will be making waves outside its region - but who knows?
As if the band were holding back three songs deep into 'Eternal', a lot of the extreme stuff - blast beats, shredding guitars, and a vicious snarl - are compressed inside the misanthropic roller coaster, 'Isolation'. Once it's over, it's back to the usual. 'Dark Reception' answers all your prayers for this genre; gentle keyboards, ripping guitars and an accessible song structure make it an optimum listening experience. Never allowing their momentum to flag, the band gives their best smack dab at the album's middle. 'Chaos Lover' was obviously made for the live setting, each specially crafted minute of it meant to get stuck inside your head. Inane title perhaps (watch out for the bad English on this album - but c'mon, give these guys a break!), but don't be surprised to find yourself mumbling its chorus at unguarded moments. Its follow up, 'Dying in Beauty' redeems its grim title with mid tempo romantic syrup. Really touching.
The band gives a salute to good ole heavy metal on 'Breathless', proving that Moonshine singer/guitarist Amon, drummer Giga, and bassist M - are also proud graduates from the University of Judas Priest. Lest they get trapped in the 80's, the band returns to their former sound with a second duet, 'No Name'. The curtains fall on the instrumental 'Regret', which is jam-packed with trademark inventiveness and enough weeping guitar play to satisfy the shredheads. But wait, 'Eternal' ain't done yet, Moonshine redo four of the album's best songs in Korean as bonus tracks - and they actually sound better. For fans of mid tempo rockers and the melodic fare sprouting across Europe, 'Eternal' is a damn good album that meets even the most discriminating listener's expectations. This quartet deserves a good pat in the back for acing their discography's latest chapter.
Rating: 8 (out of 10) ratings explained
Reviewed by Miguel Miranda