Sound — 10
Aeternam have always been a hidden gem and they improved a lot from the previous 2 full-length releases.
Vocals: From my research the vocalist actually listened to fan reviews/request and it turned out fantastic! Previously it was mostly growling with not much clean singing; on "Ruins of Empires" he took it a step further and included more clean passages even 2 full clean songs. Listening back to the first 2 albums "Disciples of the Unseen" and "Moongod" you can clearly hear out that he has definitely improved a lot (not that he was bad, he just got better!)
Instruments: Previously it was mostly distorted guitars with some acoustic guitars here and there but now they took it a step further including various strings, a koto (not quite sure what the exact isntrument is tbh) and some I can't clearly hear out what it is (I'm sorry^^).
Overall: The melodies mostly have an Arabic touch like the previous albums; although this time they went for a concept of different cultures e. G. "The Keeper of Shangri-La" which is obviously Asian themed. Cleanly produced, well executed playing and no overloaded passages makes the record absolutely brilliant.
Lyrics — 10
Previously the lyrics all had an oriental theme regarding deities such as Mithra or Hubal or historical themes such as Jerusalem or the rise of Arabia. This time though they went with an emperor concept, dedicating songs to different rulers from history. They always manage to fit the overall lyrical theme to the sound, creating a nice harmony and balance throughout every track. As mentioned above the vocalist surprises with his clean vocals, accompanied sometimes by a choir. But also his really harsh violent vocals are impressive. The mix between growls and clean (+ choir) is incredibly well balanced, keeping the tracks fresh and non repetitive.
Overall Impression — 10
You can mostly compare Aeternam to artists like Melechesch, Arkan or Orphaned Land although they truely are a unique force of their own. Personally I like every single track of the album (which is indeed a rare case) but I guess tracks that really stand out are: "Damascus Gate," "Sun Shield" and "Fallen Is the Simulacrum of Bel."
There is absolutely nothing negative to say about this record on my end, its fast paced, aggressive, melodic and epic well worth a listen! I definitely recommend to give it a listen, would buy again everytime.