After two albums of exploring horror film fodder, Destroyer of Light’s third takes a decidedly more existential turn. Mors Aeterna is a concept album detailing an individual’s journey into the afterlife, delving into the many possibilities, questions, and horrors that such a narrative would entail. This idea was more or less hinted at on 2018’s Hopeless and the band happily takes it beyond the scope of what a two-song EP could provide, expanding their core doom style in the process.
In contrast to the descending dirges seen on 2017’s Chamber of Horrors and past efforts, there’s a certain airiness felt throughout Mors Aeterna. A focus on trippy guitar leads, exclusively melodic vocals, and keyboard interludes would suggest a more uplifting venture, but a sense of melancholy remains at the forefront. One can almost feel themselves floating while listening to this album, but it comes with thoughts of lost control rather than any sort of free-spirited wonder.
Any sense of hope is weighed down by crushing doom. A broadened production scale gives way to more powerful guitar tones and equally meaty bass work. There aren’t any growls to speak of, but the vocals always possess a morose character. The songs rarely venture beyond a mid-tempo trudge, yet the incorporation of different dynamics allows each to offer its own distinct mood. The sheer grandeur of it all can even remind me of My Dying Time at times, albeit from a less academic perspective.
It reaches a fantastic culmination on the closing “Eternal Death.” “Into the Abyss” sets the tone with mysteriously echoey guitar and bass that explodes into a disheveling melody ripped straight from Mental Funeral-era Autopsy. Pounding riffs and echoing vocals further reinforce this despair until lonely piano attempts to close things out as peacefully as possible. It makes for a powerful successor to “Buried Alive” off Chamber of Horrors, offering existential terror from a different but equally effective perspective.
Destroyer of Light injects a great deal of pathos into their third full-length album. The airy atmosphere gives Mors Aeterna a different aura compared to their other efforts, but the constant melancholic presence keeps from it sounding too out of place. I find myself wishing the keyboard sequences were more smoothly incorporated, and the writing and performances are incredibly powerful overall. It may take a few listens to get used to, but Destroyer of Light retains their reputation as one of the top traditional doom bands for fans to keep an eye on.
“Loving the Void”