Review: Aquilus – Griseus

Overall Impression


Musical Quality


Total Score


Release Date

December 21, 2011



Posted November 17, 2018 by

The Review

Would you be surprised if I told you that Aquilus is a one-man project? Well, you probably would be, upon listening to the album called Griseus. Not only the compositions and lyrics, but also all the instruments are handled by just one person: Horace Rosenqvist, a.k.a Waldorf (sounds Swedish, right?). Well, this “Australian” band (should I call it rather a musician?) is way too awesome. I really appreciated his complete effort. It is pretty much obvious that Waldorf is a well-educated musician. Especially it seems like he is a decent classical piano virtuoso I would say.

Griseus consists of many heroic lines of gothic and atmospheric tunes. You’d hear lots of growls and noisy black metal riffs for guitars and drums at times. Keyboard lines, on the other hand, are just so clean (check out the songs called The Fawn and Night Bells especially!), strings are so emotional and chorus is so elegant. This hybridity is very appealing to me and I am sure it’d be the same for those who enjoy both classical and metal music.

The songs on the album are pretty long just like traditional epic or funeral doom songs, but unlike those, Griseus does not offer lots of boring repetitions (and of course the genre is different). Each song is like a different journey with different parts within. I am going to give you an example from my favorite song of the album called Nihil (the name nuff said to be my favorite). The song / journey consists of a few parts. The beginning is almost cinematic followed by a mellow transition of acoustics. Then the growls welcome you. When the chorus comes into play, the song becomes utterly attractive and elegant. Towards the 5th minute, another guitar passage starts which makes you feel like leaving a moody realm and stepping into a creepily atmospheric and dark one, making this journey turn into a state of complete “dark tranquility” (no, not the band). When the keyboards start, on the other hand, they create depictions of horror almost visually in your mind. The epic part then begins with strings and orchestral contribution and reaches to the climax within the 12th minute. Finally comes a calm acoustic outro which says farewell to its audience. The songs, almost of all them, are episodic and flamboyant like this one.

I liked the interludes the most in this album. They happen to appear almost in every song, each being just like interdependent pieces of playful postmodern short stories. They are, like fairytales, telling a story and keeping the listener on track by arousing attention through the beauty of suspense. This is an important aspect because the listener then does not lose any focus throughout the entire album. You would also feel a sort of folkloric ambiance in some songs (especially in Smokefall and Latent Thistle). I don’t know why, but I felt a bit of Hellenic tone as well. Reading the song as a piece of literature, Smokefall offered me ancient passages that could be pictured to be background music for Hellenic soldiers that came back from war, seeking peace in the court of Ares. Not even related to the concept of the album most likely, but then wasn’t the author dead since Barthes and Derrida?

Did I mention the acoustic lines being genius? Yeah, I guess I did. The aggressive parts of the songs are very thrilling and epic. On the other hand the orchestral and calm parts are as graceful as a white swan wading in the lake slowly.

I do not know whether it is meaningful to question what kind of an aesthetic experience the growls, heavy guitar riffs and drum passages in metal songs trigger, but personally I can say that when I come across compositions such as Grisius’, the adrenaline level rises within me.  It is difficult to imagine how it would turn out when metal tunes meet orchestra and epic, dramatic, melancholic neo-folk, but apparently, as proven by Aquilus, it turns out quite beautiful.

In short, this band is the definiton of underrated, and Horace is pretty much a genius.

Songs / Tracks Listing

1 Nihil 14:00
2 Loss 9:05
3 Smokefall 7:00
4 In Lands Of Ashes 11:55
5 Latent Thistle 5:35
6 Arboreal Sleep 8:30
7 The Fawn 6:20
8 Night Bell 7:30

Line-up / Musicians

Horace “Waldorf” Rosenqvist – Everything




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