An 8 year wait from an album is asking a lot. These guys are one of my favorite bands. I don't expect them to be black metal, I expect them to do what they do. This involves their ever evolving sound that retains the core of who they are. The opener " the Unveiling", finds Shagrath croaking his way through the verses. There is a huge choral sound midway into the song. This confirms they are more of a symphonic metal band than a black metal band. I heard "Inter dimensional Summit" before the album came out , while I think the choral refrain used for the chorus is a little over top and some of the melodies could stand to be darker overall the song works. The blast beats are sparse and subtle often place under guitar riffs that are more staccato, the galloped groove are more the meat of the matter on songs like "Aetheric". I can see how a point of contention for some might be the fact that rather than using one powerhouse metal vocalist like ICS Vortex they are employing an entire choral section to tackle places clean vocal hooks would be.
The songwriting has been refined to the point of polishing off the edge even their last studio album held, though it's not as drastic as what I was bracing myself for due to reviews I had read going into this. I like the darker intro to "Council of Wolves and Snakes" . I noticed when I leave this album on it is like the songs are movements in a larger work. This song breaks that up and sits on it's own a little more than most where some of the others run together. So far it's one of the album's darker moments and since they are no longer black metal, all I am asking them is to be dark and not Nightwish. The chorus singing " We are gods in the making" works better than some of the more grandiose moments early on. The first song I found to be generic filler that just takes a bunch of parts that sounds like Dimmu and throws them together with less inspiration is "the Empyrean Phoenix".
This album is mixed in a way that is so clean you have to really play it loudly for it be truly heavy. I noticed this when it comes to the majestic stomp opening "Lightbringer". The double bass could stand to have more guts in the low end, but gives me what I need from these guys. They use King Diamond like vocals going into "I am Sovereign" then it is less inspired from there. They do come back and prove to be my favorite part of the song. Though they hit a pretty wicked groove after the second time and that's not even half way into the song. So there is a ton being crammed into these songs. The double bass is cool "Archaic Correspondence" along with impressive experimentation with programming. They also give me just one singular voice singing rather than 30. Though this still had to grow on me. They need to get rid of the major intervals the choral sections sing on "Alpha Aeon Omega" it's too happy. "Rite of Passage" thankfully breaks up things by avoiding the formula that was beginning to develop. It's more mournful than dark, but that still works. Though as an instrumental it's more of an outro. I'll round this one up to a 9, which when all of their other albums are 10s is a little bit of a let down considering the wait for this, but them dialing it in is better than most bands can do on a good day.