|Atmospheric Sludge Metal, Post-Metal, Crust Punk
Metal Blade Records
November 11th, 2014
Release length: 1:00:08
Aeon Unveils the Thrones of Decay may only be seven tracks long, its hour long album length allows the band to get a lot more done, branching out further into realms that now merely seem hinted at with previous releases. But, much like those very outings, Downfall of Gaia continue to gravitate towards atmosphere, creating a truly morose offering that needs this time to bloom. “Darkness Inflames These Sapphire Eyes” introduces a sense of isolation and darkness through simple haunting held chords that can become cleaner later on, all before slamming into a Crust Punk heavy level of aggression that is punctuated perfectly with the harsher higher pitched growling and shouts that come off like chanting. If you’re not greeted with furious pacing, you are met with creeping Doom Metal-esque material that sounds like a march towards your own demise. This sensation reappears on “Whispers of Aeon” by the half-way point, as does the earlier sense of isolation and loneliness, as if gazing out on the ruins of a post-apocalyptic world with few survivors. As it continues on you can notice some tribal elements one might hear in a Neurosis album that doesn’t violate the signature sound found throughout the recording.
While “Darkness Inflames These Sapphire Eyes” does pick up a bit towards the end, it’s “Carved into Shadows” that destroys it all once more. The natural segway in is greeted with slower riffs as beefy as they are ominous and soul crushing. This only lasts about two minutes before the hostility returns with steady drumming and guitars that support the faster pace, all the while eerie hooks linger in the background to give off an other worldly presence, as if leaving this plain of existence for another that eventually finds some Sludge Metal material, allowing the loud pulses of the bass guitar some time at the forefront. From here it’s all about the setting the music manages to weave, eventually taking on more of an introspective sensation that can be quite soothing at times.
But, for this release, we also see the band drifting away from those Sludge-heavy performances, favoring a Depressive Black Metal approach akin to the likes of Lifelover with a far more grounded vocal approach, or even a less Shoegaze early Alcest. “Of Stillness and Solitude” is really where this new approach begins to come together, finding brooding slower passages that either tackle slower, cleaner riffs that can feel a bit cold overall with abrasive and violent main verses with a distant hostility to the raspier screams. This makes up the first half of the performance, eventually settling down a bit to some uplifting melodies with rougher vocal harmonizations that carry an attitude of Hardcore brotherhood that utilizes feedback to tie it into “To Carry Myself to the Grave”. This one finds some explosive drum work, sometimes treading into more of a Progressive realm that, thanks to the loud volume level on the thud of the bass kicks, pulls your attention away from the emotional hooks that hit between the sharper segments of melancholy. Thankfully the tighter guitars and later blast beats eventually mask this issue with some of the most intense material the album has to offer.
This new offering definitely shows a great deal of growth for the group, not to mention finds the band expanding and incorporating other styles a little further this time around, it’s the amount of variety that manages to hold it back a bit. You need at least one spin through in order to be able to take everything in, and even then there’s so much to digest that it feels like what you would normally consider an Avant-Garde touch is nothing more than overloading the senses. The rough production quality doesn’t always help either. While it does keep with the overall depressing or violent atmospheres the music gives off, there are times where certain instruments tend to come off a little overbearing, taking away from the impact the track or specific passage is meant to have. Put these two issues together and Aeon Unveils the Thrones of Decay can seem a bit scatter brained at times, only maintaining a fluid progression for small chunks at a time such as “Darkness Inflames These Sapphire Eyes” and “Carved into Shadows”. This is aided a bit by the band’s decision to bridge some songs together thanks to using feedback or other simple tactics to play over the typical gaps of silence that would pop up between songs, in essence turning these extensive cuts into far more epic lengthier performances.
For everything the band does right here, there is something that seems to counter it as well. Aeon Unveils the Thrones of Decay has plenty going for it: A suiting raw audio quality, maturity in their established direction, not to mention rich atmospheres full of varying emotion. The biggest drawback is that Downfall of Gaia seem to do so much that it loses the fluid progression prior releases managed to sustain a lot longer and make seem effortlessly natural. While the dabbling in other styles like Depressive Black Metal (or what sounds like it at least) is a fantastic choice that perfectly suits the rawer sound quality, and its clear the group will need a little more time to properly work it in as these new elements seem more like a crutch that becomes patterned over time based ly on the overall impact the band is trying to achieve within the certain group of songs. But, that said, if you’re a fan of Downfall of Gaia‘s last two full-lengths, or just really enjoy moody Post-Metal oriented material, Aeon Unveils the Thrones of Decay won’t really let you down, but worth giving a once over if it’s unfamiliar territory.
01. Darkness Inflames These Sapphire Eyes – 9:38
02. Carved into Shadows – 10:20
03. Ascending the Throne – 2:37
04. Of Stillness and Solitude – 8:13
05. To Carry Myself to the Grave – 8:56
06. Whispers of Aeon – 11:50
07. Excavated – 8:34
|Initial Pressing Score: 7/10