Friday, October 7, 2011

Judas Iscariot - Of Great Eternity (1997)

Of Great Eternity is the third studio album from Judas Iscariot. It was released on Elegy Records in 1997, and shows a bit of a progression from the first two records. That is not to say that it is good, but it feels a bit more coherent than its predecessors and the musicianship is somewhat more competent, though not by much. The songwriting is fairly similar to the previous material, though some attempts are made to add depth to the overall product. In the end, this album does not break new ground for the band, but it allows Akhenaten to have a bit more solid footing.

The album begins with "...the Heavens Drop With Human Gore...", which seems to be considered some sort of milestone for the band, though it is average in every way possible. It fades in with a mournful vibe, before transitioning to the standard Darkthrone-worship that Judas Iscariot is known for. The guitar tone is thin and suits the style of the music, while the drumming still exhibits the same limitations as before, though to a lesser degree. The song also includes more mid-paced riffs that are reminiscent of Burzum, but nothing really comes of it and the repetition becomes tedious by the end. Not bad, but nothing to get excited about.

"...I Filled With Woes the Passing Wind..." is an instrumental track that is similar to the title tracks from the previous two records, breaking free of the typical formula used for most of the other songs. It possesses a sombre feeling, though it remains in a state of mediocrity, failing to realize the bit of potential that it has. The song is rather one-dimensional, but that is to be expected from Akhenaten.

The next song is "...Then Mourns the Wanderer...", which begins with more fast tremolo melodies before shifting to something else that sounds familiar in a way. The mid-paced part at least adds some variety to the track, though not doing much to elevate the quality. A Burzum-inspired section, near the end, helps the dark atmosphere expand a bit, before returning to the initial tremolo riff and concluding. This song is probably one of the more enjoyable ones on here, and is bereft of the awkward feeling that plagued most of the earlier material.

"...for the Last Judgement Draweth Nigh..." is a short and straightforward track in the vein of classic-era Darkthrone, of course. The tremolo melodies do not really evoke any sort of feeling, and it all comes off as rather sterile and pointless. The execution is much more competent than similar tracks from The Cold Earth Slept Below... or Thy Dying Light, but it lacks any real purpose or direction.

This is followed by a song that utilizes the same approach. "...Calls to Heaven for Human Blood..." features more cold tremolo riffs, though slightly less sterile. One gets the impression that Akhenaten is at least trying to conjure some sort of dark feeling. There is more variation in tempo and the slower sections add a sense of melancholy to the song. The riffs are a bit more memorable, even if they are unoriginal. It still reeks of a combination of Darkthrone and Burzum, with very little unique input, but it is pulled off more successfully than in the past.

"...Our Sons Shall Rule the Empire of the Sea..." starts with one of the better tremolo melodies found on the album, and possesses more of a sombre and epic feel. The riffs still have a familiar quality, but that is to be expected from a musician of such limited vision. Despite whatever pretentious goals he may have had, Akhenaten is still hardly capable of more than hero-worship. This particular song is more complex than any other that he had written, up to this point, and the result is fairly decent. It maintains a mournful atmosphere throughout, leaving the listener in an introspective mood.

Of Great Eternity is not a bad album, but it seems pitiful that it took Akhenaten three tries just to display even a minimal level of competency in songwriting and musicianship. This would have made for an acceptable debut effort, showing a little bit of potential while also paying homage to those who inspired the creation of Judas Iscariot, but to possess such little original thought and to still be so mired in obvious imitation is slightly embarrassing. This is an average album, neither good nor bad, but certainly an improvement when compared to the band's earlier works.