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Aquilus – Bellum I Award winner

Bellum I
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 08 January 2022, 6:59 AM

AQUILUS is an Atmospheric Metal band from parts unknown. Unfortunately, they did not include any bio information about themselves in the EPK, and have no entry on The Metal Archives. So, we will have to go with the music here. “Bellum I” contains eight tracks. “The Night Winds of Avila” leads off the album. It’s a short and somber two minutes of hauntingly chilly piano notes. You can feel the cold winds blowing right through you. “Into Wooded Hallows” begins with vile harsh voices and a low and slow riff, covered in darkness. Symphonic elements occupy the background along with some charming piano notes and lead guitars. So far, this is a very moving album. The harsh vocals bring a dark edge to the music, but it is quite alluring, especially with the clean vocals. The piano notes that bring the song to completion are beautiful.

“Eternal Unrest” is a beastly 13-minutes in length. It begins with heavy guitars, drums and vocals, but of course gives way to more breathable melodies. The chord progressions are odd, but catchy. It mires in darkness for much of the song, leading you down, and down further into the unknown. The piano melodies at the half-way mark are almost jovial, dancing in and around the darker elements as if they were immune to their charms, and the screams towards the end are harrowing. “Moon Isabelline” is a shorter song, beginning with ominous piano notes. Whoever is playing the piano here is quite the maestro. The notes are as grand as they are stirring.

“The Silent Passing” opens with some softer tones, leading to a heavy riff that busts through your senses like a runway train, pulverizing everything in its path. It dies down to slowly coat your soul with what seems like sugary goodness but is actually poison. Its bite will kill you almost instantly. Pushing towards the end, the melodies soften once again. “Embered Waters” begins with a stygian riff that haunts you from every angle. Where is the sound coming from? In the pitch-black dark, you never know. You run away, but the sound is still there, haunting you, beguiling you. Come and play, the voice whispers.

“Lucile’s Gate” picks up with the aftermath. Drums roll forward with deadly purpose, combined with the angry effects of the vocal screams, intermixed with symphonic elements that seem to capture the beauty of death in just the right way. It increases in strength until it burns itself out, ending in more ghastly piano notes. “Empyreal Night Sky” closes the album. It begins with soft but tense symphonic tones, opening up the heavens like clouds parting to witness a stellar event. No words are needed. The resulting visions are clear, and almost too much for the naked eye to bear. You weep in silence…and the universe re-sets itself. All is good now, go home and close your eyes. When you wake…the images burned in your memory beg the question, was any of it real?

I guess when you are as good as AQUILUS, you don’t need to include any other information in your EPK save for the music. I can’t believe I missed the album in late 2021. It’s a collection of eight tracks that are as ardent and stoic as they are beautiful and moving. The chord progressions on the album are unusual, seeming to come from a mad scientist whose only concern is creating the kind of album that he wants to create. The album is full of backing elements, carefully crafted, and sealed with cold, dark lips that turn everything the touch to frozen waste. Yet, the album retains a graceful and resplendent quality to it as well…the melodies are elegant and accessible. This a true masterpiece and must be in the discussions for album of the year.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 9

5 Star Rating

1. The Night Winds of Avila
2. Into Wooded Hollows
3. Eternal Unrest
4. Moon Isabelline
5. The Silent Passing
6. Embered Waters
7. Lucille's Gate
8. Empyreal Nightsky
Horace Rosenqvist - Composer
Zebadee Scott – Percussion
Hayley Anderson – Violin
Troy Schafer – Violin
Sasha Chaply – Operatic Vocals
Sara Orania – Fipple Flutes
Record Label: Blood Music


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Edited 07 February 2023

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