Fatum Aeternum have appeared at the International Gothic Festival, which gives a strong clue as to their style. My interest was aroused immediately. What I heard was something between strange and eccentric. It was certainly distinctive and like entering the Hammer House of Horrors as a female soprano opera singer and a deep-voiced male companion announce a dark and mysterious journey. Theatrical eccentricity seems to have no bounds at this point. The lady angelically floats off into the ether. Orchestral sounds mix with a pleasantly metal beat. The gentleman sounds like Topol of “If I were a Rich Man” fame. Maybe there’s no coincidence here as Fatum Aeternum, like Topol, are from Israel. The track surprisingly is called “Hate”. “False Freedom” which follows seems to be an invitation to the lunatic asylum. It has a nice beat and the violin notches it up a bit. But the jolly music meets darkness and unfathomable eccentricity.

After a bright, at least in the musical sense, and interesting start, the album enters more conventional territory. “Revelation” is supposed to be creepy, I think, but was actually a bit dreary. The formula becomes uniform. To sum it up, there’s a nice steady metal beat, and great play is made of the contrast between the lady with the light and floaty voice and the gentleman, with whom she appears to be having a conversation. The songs are ok, there’s a hint of darkness but it’s never mind-blowing. The real treat is Evelyn Shor’s voice, which can sound child-like at times and dreamy at others. One of the strangest tracks of this album is “Lullaby”, on which the gentleman sings plaintively. It doesn’t really work. The underused violin adds atmosphere and then the track drifts off. This happens all too often. The band plays on but it is sleepy. There is a suggestion of theatre on “Evidence” but it doesn’t come across so well in recorded form. There are other highlights on this album. “Resurrection of Me” manages to portray a dark world with the aid of the violin and Ms Shor’s fine voice before combining a rock guitar solo with acoustic work. Best of all was the last track “Confession”. The ace card is played. Ms Shor sings in her pure voice. Delicate music can be heard in the background of this reflective and simple track. Cloud storms gather but go away. “Confession” is spine-chilling. Unfortunately this cannot be said of the rest of the album.

When I first heard “The Dream is Dead” without noting any of the details, I thought there might be something in it and looked forward to listening to it again. It is true to the Gothic ethos in that it is shadowy and dark but it lacks obvious continuity of idea and charisma. I suppose someone like Trail of Tears might be considered a peer but their music has power and presence. Leaving out Ms Shor’s voice, on the strength of this album, Fatum Aeternum’s music has neither of these qualities.

(4.5 / 10 Andrew Doherty)