Wave Gothic Treffen XIV in 2005
by Travis Baumann
I had no previous knowledge of Aeternitas prior to seeing their name in the roster for this year's Wave Gothic Treffen. As with previous Treffen's, I try to find out, what all the bands I don't know, sound like, ahead of time, to make sure I don't miss someone really phenominal and like all previous years, it has brought some great bands to light that I would not have previously encountered.
When I first listened to Aeternitas online, I found the songs available extremely varied and full of combined elements such as electronics and keyboards, guitar and bass instruments, at least seven different vocalists as well as choirs bringing all the magnitude that a choir adds to song.
The primary vocals had a clean, distinguished and intellectual quality to them, both the male and female characters portrayed. Some songs had multiple women singing and others transitioned to snarled male vocals popular in extreme metal genres.
Overall, I would say they are something more Gothic in nature but all of these early assumptions would be laid aside after seeing them live.
They played an unusual venue, one I had not been in before, or since and I have been to five Wave Gotik Treffens in total now. It was a sub-room of the Agra hall and just off of the Orkus Cafe. All in all, the stage is rather low and the lighting is not suited to live shows so you will notice that the muscians themselves do not appear in the photos as there were no lights on them! In their group was a beautiful woman on keyboards, from checking the liner notes off the album I bought later on during this trip, I think this must be Anja Malchau who writes all the music with the lead male vocalist Alexander Hunzinger.
There was also a couple of guys playing guitar, a bassist and I believe a drummer but I am not sure how extensive the kit was as it was hardly visible.
The musicians being in the background lent all the focus to the vocalists and their performances. I say performances because as this turned out, it was much more in the vein of Opera with characters and parts being conveyed through music.
First out came a robed individual with a long beaked, sinister mask. He introduced the show through a half narration, half singing style of delivery.
Afterwards a throne was brought out and on it a bald man in royal style garb began singing his tale. It was not long before the masked man shed his outer garments and revealed himself.
I don't speak German worth a damn so I am afraid the details of their relationship were lost to me, but like Italian opera, lack of intimate details does little to diminish the interplay of characters and appreciation of the music, so I was able to gather, that the younger man sought the death of the older bald man.
After an interlude of counter song, the old man died, though it definitely seemed like the younger one killed him, it is possilbe the young man in black represented death himself, I am not sure.
Immediately before his death on the throne a beautiful woman appears and sings with the other two. I couldn't tell if the bald man was her father, husband or lover but there was definitely a connection.
The younger man stretches out his hand and slays the old man through some sort of power. The woman is horrified and instantly mourns the death of him.
At that point, the young, deadly man attempts to captivate the woman despite her greif. He gropes her and attempts to woo her over to him.
Misery is painted clear on her face as she realizes her plight. Despite his advances she resists and he angers quickly. He tries a more forceful approach but still is daunted. He then wraps his cane around her throat and they continue to struggle.
Finally her rejections get the best of him and his evil side resurfaces. He strangles the life out of her with his cane and she slumps over onto the throne on top of the deceased bald man. The evil youth appears unfazed and unremorseful as he looks upon his handy work.
All this and it was only the first song! As you can see, this project is much more than a mere band. The vocals were strong and told the story with emotion and weight and it was really fun to watch. The set continued in this vein, introducing more players as the stories evolved and the music dipped into their darker, harsher pieces as well.
All in all it was really amazing to witness. Once out of the photo pit it was much harder to see, so I wish they would have been in a different venue to provide a higher stage and easier viewing, not to mention better lighting so we could see the musicians but still it was a great experience to get to see them.
After finding their CD we were able to experience them in that fashion as well and their songs do really vary a huge gambut of styles. Each holds true to that elaborate story telling process and is more like a piece of theatre or performance art. I highly recommend these guys especially if you are looking for a breath of fresh air from the Gothic, Electronic, Metal type genres' standard fare.