Well, Ascending From Aeons Passed does present itself in a pretty brutal manner, but is set back a bit by the crisp audio quality. Much like recent Nile albums, the recording has a bit of a higher pitched presence that gives it more of a sand-blasted output. There’s also times where it seems the band is channeling an Egyptian or general middle eastern tone, such as on “Spineless Breed” and the barren landscapes the regional-specific atmospheres some of the riffs weave towards the end as it trudges along, supported by the steady click of the double bass kicks, heading into the dismal, parched guitar solo. This isn’t to say the music is sanitized through digital production or mastering though, as the bass guitar is still dominant enough in the mix, and the drum kit overall sounds fantastic, not to mention the gristled growling has a decent range to it. In fact, it would be great if this is what the band is really going for all the time.
Instead, we’re left with varying bouts of blunt force trauma and deserted landscapes throughout the release. “2nd Skin” pulls the bass more to the forefront with a great deal of hostility in the guitars when the drums aren’t pounding out well executed blast beats. There’s also a good number of downtrodden hooks throughout, such as about two minutes in that take the blistering hostility into more of a melancholic direction that the band nicely plays off of. “Death Metal Apocalypse” is similar in many ways, though restricts the slower passages after a while. For the most part, the music lives up to the title come a minute in. Fantastic drums with chugging guitar work capture the spirit of the more brutal side of death metal that Incantation and Immolation pummel their listeners with, right down to the occassional pig squeel. There’s even a sudden short lived slow break about two minutes in reminiscent of the work of Atheist that slowly builds up to mass hysteria once more.
“Through the Gate of Hypnos” is a furious piece all around, finding the distortions on the guitar to become a little sharper thanks to the speed and additional complexity incorporated. It has some slower moments as well, though they are few and far between this time around, focusing more on a bloodsoaked rampage than anything else. The only gripe here, really, is that the deeper gutturals don’t quite share the level of adrenline that surges through the performance, sticking to a slower pace that only has a matching sign of life in the random rasps that appear. But then there’s “Fenfire”, which can actually be described more as a Behemoth track if they were to drop most of the black metal influence. That Egyptian sounding atmosphere is present, though more obvious during the slower bouts about half way through, and again at the end, and it actually works out for the most part given how the band shifts between speed, not to mention the somewhat eccentric start as well.
Overall, Ascending From Aeons Passed isn’t the most awe-inspiring death metal album to be released this year, but when the band is on fire, you tend to stop what you’re doing and take notice. The faster, more chaotic cuts like “Death Metal Apocalypse”, “2nd Skin”, even the latter half of “Nonconformist”, all speak volumes of the group’s ability to slam your head against the nearest rock in obedience. Even some of the slower passages work out when coupled with that aforementioned fury. But, like mentioned, that random middle eastern or Egyptian atmosphere just puts you off a bit, leaving the listener conflicted as to whether this is meant to just be a pulse pounding death metal bloodbath, or if that blood is meant as a tribute to ancient gods of that region of the world. Either way, it stands a good album worth checking out, and a promising, long overdue start for this long-running entity.