Aosoth: III

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Aosoth: III
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Aosoth: III
Black Metal
Agonia Records
May 10th, 2011
Release length: 45:53
Myspace
Aosoth, the French Black Metal band returns on Agonia Records for their third full-length recording, III. Known for their uncompromising Black Metal through their many split releases and two prior full-lengths, the only thing that really seemed to hold this group back was the rather raw production quality, as well as some general repetition in the music that didn’t necessarily help it stand out much. However, the band sets their sites at decimating their listeners again with six brand new tracks clocking in at over forty five minutes in length. Does this album have what it take to make those uncertain or unfamiliar with this band stand up and take notice?

Right away it becomes clear that the band is utilizing the raw production technique once again, and for the most part it works to create a dark and somewhat haunting atmosphere when the guitars tend to slow down and try to be a little more melodic, but it doesn’t really feel like it’s being properly captured or portrayed. Thesame goes for the drums, which sound a rich, but lighter and further back in the recording with the guitars, through all the instruments do seem to be on the same level when it comes to volume. Even the vocals feel further back in the mix, giving off more of an analog feel to the final quality of the recording.

Each track on III does it’s best to come off both haunting and aggressive or intimidating. Some tracks can pull of the haunting atmosphere to the best of it’s abilities with the production, and rarely does the raw quality aid it. “II” manages to feature a large amount of chaotic guitar chords that some off very eery thanks largely to the distortion used, and the overall audio quality of the recording. This really helps the song stand out nicely with the album, and show off what the band is truly capable of pulling off. However, it becomes obvious and you go through the album that this becomes a reoccurring aspect for this release, appearing on other tracks as well, and sometimes more prodominantly or longer. This causes what comes off as an interesting way to interpret a haunting effect or even perhaps a crazy or paranoid expression in the atmosphere to become repetative and redundant after a while.

As far as the intimidating and aggressive traits go, there’s nothing much that can actually be said. The songs typically suffer from the lower quality, and much of the intensity is just built by blistering double bass kicks and blast beats. The only song that genuinely seems to be heavy and carry the blast beats well is “VI”, which just feels and sounds heavier then all the others and makes it one of the more enjoyable songs of the release, though it does turn into white noise and later shifts to some creepy sound effects based on reversed chords or piano notes around the six and a half minutes mark. These blasts even occur during some of the passages that clearly are meant to be slower for a stronger haunting effect, like those scattered throughout “I”, and it’s very rare you ever hear the drums slow down or even pause for longer then a few seconds, if that. When it does, the music mostly takes on a brief passage to cast an eery light on the music, such as the start of “III” with it’s background ambience against a traditional piano sound that clearly is coming from a keyboard, but it does give off a more gothic and sinister essence to it then anything else, but, sure enough, when the guitars kick in, the music gives off a slower pace, and the double bass kicks are still coming in strong, though not as typically fast with some paced cymbols and snares, a real shock and treat for this release. It feels like a gradual step, and “IV” does offer some slower paced drumming, but by then it’s coupled with some extra off-key chords from the guitarist, and you’ll just want to skip past it.

Overall, though, III is far from a bad album. Musically, it’s a strong Black Metal effort from Aosoth, but it just becomes repetative after a while, which is it’s biggest downfall. By the time you hit “IV”, you’ll be ready to abandon all hope with the amount of focus the band puts to the off-key chords for the music, and the many spots that use a blistering double bass makes the release sound a little more bland then it should be, though some slower elements that ultimately appear are a great welcome, and really seem too far and few between at times and actually help to draw out the music to a track length that is simply not necessary. On top of that, there’s the vocal performance. While it’s not horrible, the gutteral vocal approach sometimes doesn’t pack that strong an impact. “V” has some deeper gutterals that, at times, sound like a demonic whisper and are very impressive thanks to the echo that is placed on them. However, at the same time there are moments where the vocals come off a little lackluster, almost as if there was little care put into the vocal approach. “I” is the perfect example, and the starting vocals actually sound like they’re being performed without any emphasis, though picking up moreso later on in the song.

Overall, Aosoth show their fans that they are still going strong in the underground Black Metal scene, and still doing the style the way they know best. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean the album is going to be fantastic, and ultimately doesn’t quite live up to the expectations many may have brought with them for this release. The music isn’t bad, but the band utilizes some simple ideas and beats them to death throughout the recording, leaving the listener just wanting to up and walk away not too long into the album. Stack that on top of the vocals that sometimes sound bored, as well as some overdrawn tracks, as well as flat out boring compositions like “IV”, and it becomes something only the dedicated Black Metal fan will truly embrace despite it’s faults. But, even with all that, the band clearly has some good ideas on this CD, and not all the tracks here are worth passing up, such as “II” with it’s mixture of haunting and intense atmospheres that work well together, and the blistering, thick-sounding “VI” with it’s deeper sound and pounding music. In the end, it’s still worth sampling, but an album purchase that will more then likely sit at the back of your mind.

01. I – 7:40
02. II – 6:55
03. III – 7:00
04. IV – 5:55
05. V – 9:01
06. VI – 9:23
Overall Score: 6/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Agonia Records.