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Eterne : Still Dreaming

Eterne's lost classic 1995 debut was one of the first true bridges between Gothic Rock and Doom.

And, suddenly, I'm listening to a Killing Joke. Albeit one where the English band would have recruited Mortiis, in his early days, as the keyboard player. Then, 'Divine' starts, and I'm in a crawling Doom song, albeit one sung by Jaz Coleman. Welcome in the weird world of Eterne.

Back in 1995, there wasn't such a thing as 'Gothic Doom'. The idea that a Doom band could be influenced by the Post-Punk and Goth Rock scene was, at best, laughable. It was in that same year that Theatre Of Tragedy released their self-titled debut album, when The Gathering released 'Mandylion', and Paradise Lost, 'Draconian Times'. So, if you wanted to be a Gothic-influenced Metal band, you had to get yourself a woman singer, some male growler, or speed up your tempo and get some nice choruses. All of these things were totally absent from Eterne's debut.

'Still Dreaming' is, technically, exactly what one would expect from a record having the two words 'Gothic' and 'Doom' used to define it musically (and thematically, as you'll find in the thanks-list some '90s Goth staples like Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" comic book or the "Jyhad"/"Vampire : The Eternal Struggle" trading card game). While there are some tracks that are totally non-Doom (mostly because they play too fast for your average integrist doomster), they represent just around 25% of the music displayed here. The other 75% is a very original mix between '80s to early '90s Goth Rock (Killing Joke and their German counterpart Love Like Blood are the main suspects here), with a very strong emphasis on organ-like keyboards (the fast Post-Punk opener 'Flesh Made Word' or the more Bauhaus-influenced 'The Crawling Chaos'), and very melodic yet brooding Doom ('Scarlet Field', which sounds like a weird mix between Sopor Aeternus and early Godsend, or 'Still Dreaming' which sounds as if Lacrimosa was covering a track from 'Pentecost III' with Brendan Perry from Dead Can Dance handling the keyboards).

This is an original record in many ways (that mad laugh in 'A Certain Kind Of Bitterness', together with a lot of samples, is genuinely chilling). The most interesting one is the fact that the two masterminds behind Eterne managed to create something coherent out of two musical genres that were considered, back then, as far removed from each other as the Sun is from Pluto. You'll find new things in it with each new listening. This is a pioneering album, and people familiar with the works from the German band Gardens Of Gehenna (whose first album was released 3 years after 'Still Dreaming') will find many common points here.

It's a shame that such originality didn't pay off in the end, as the band stopped activity around late 1996. 'Still Dreaming' is a lost gem waiting to be rediscovered, perhaps a cornerstone in the history of Gothic Doom and a must-have for fans of Devil Doll, London After Midnight, Cathedral or the UK Serenity.

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Reviewer's rating: 8/10


Tracklist :
1. Flesh Made Word
2. Divine
3. The Crawling Chaos
4. Scarlet Field
5. Marionette
6. The Endless
7. Forever
8. A Certain Kind Of Bitterness
9. Epilogue
10. Thanatos
11. Still Dreaming
12. In Retrospect

Duration : Approx. 59 minutes

Visit the Eterne bandpage.

Reviewed on 2017-10-22 by Laurent Lignon
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