Ván Records, 21.12.18
The German death machine rolls ever onward. With overhauled and reinforced armour. Armed to the teeth and equipped for war with upgraded weapon technology and heavy firing power.
The band made a name for themselves with the debut Swallowed By The Ocean's Tide (2013), and was a couple of years later featured with honours here for the sequel Gateway to the Antisphere.
Fans of the band's past works, may already have placed their investments.
But wherever that's not the case, I intend to convert the remaining latecomers and hesitants, as a missionary in the name of Leviathan and Cthulhu...
The sound, which was dark and fierce on the debut, took an unexpected turn towards intensity with a higher pitch on Gateway.... This time, Sulphur Aeon is blessed with a delightful echoing sound somewhere in between, exhibiting a more airy touch and a more natural sounding expression. Admittedly, the dynamic range is fairly narrow, but it still sounds resounding and powerful. As such, the music comes more into its own. And when the song material don't come off as second to their past grandeur, The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos becomes nothing short of a massive piece of epic death metal.
Simon Werner, who plays with a couple of the Sulphur Aeon guys in December Flower, has produced everything Sulphur Aeon has released. This time he has participated in recording and mixing along with Michael Zech (Secrets of the Moon etc.) (who also guested on the album using E-bow), who in turn has mastered the album together with V. Santura (Dark Fortress et al.).
Some of the atmosphere and awe that Nile has refined in honour of Egyptian Pharaohs and gods, and Behemoth and their peer have channelled in honour of Lucifer, is cultivated by Sulphur Aeon in honour of the entity that dwells in R'lyeh. Possibly with a humble nod to Baphomet. On The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos, their expression is honed and distilled to a sheer grandiose and majestic ode.
Turn up the volume and behold sturdy percussion, grim vocal and loud riffs with your own ears. The ceremony has begun. The earth trembles. In the depths, undreamed, grumpy powers awakens, dragged out of its futile beauty sleep. Rating: 6
Immortal Frost Productions, 24.09.18 Valo Pohjoisesta is nothing short of album number 11 from Finnish Azaghal, a band I cannot remember having stumbled upon earlier.
The band's history dates back to the mid-90s, when they started under the name Belphegor. For obvious reasons, they quickly chose to change their name. First to the short-lived name Nargoventor, before taking their current name in 1998.
By the way, their EP Harmagedon, released the following year, was one of the very first releases on Norwegian Aftermath Music.
Due to an insurmountable amount of releases, and limited time at hand, I'm forced to be picky concerning which of any given day's dozens of promos to accept. I was initially sceptical to Valo Pohjoisesta, as parts of the material appeared as rather generic, but something about the band's devilry nevertheless sounded intriguing enough to allure me to give the album a chance.
With reckless attitude and snarling vocals, the guys play black and dirty metal with distorted barbed wires and raspy bass. In the moment, a truly cosy moment in the flames, whence the album settles in after a while. The sound is rich, but appropriately unpolished, the expression is hostile and the instrumentation more than acceptable. Along with diversity and mood, the music has what it takes to grab the attention for 45 minutes. Even with repeated listens.
Unfortunately, the material doesn't offer on the biggest surprises. Apart from some individual sequences that sticks out slightly, such as the ending of the work, the album doesn't consist of enormously memorable riffs. The riffs, however, are effective, and I would characterize the material as above average. The grief-stricken, but too short melody line that appears a couple of times in the last half of the title song, definitively makes the hairs of the neck react in a pleasant way.
The Finns are reeling off devilish black tones on this album, that isolated turns out to be quite entertaining. Admittedly, it lacks a little on that something extra. Valo Pohjoisesta is still a good record that risks drowning a bit in the crowd, unless the veterans' name is enough to ignite an extra spark of interest. Those with conservative taste buds, who's not turned off by a bit of recycling, should feel right at home in these black waters. Sceptics and nit-picky connoisseurs (or feinschmeckers as the German would say), should listen before making up their minds.
In the broad context, Valo Pohjoisesta is far from remarkable, but having made a proper acquaintance with the album, I definitely thrive in its company. Rating: 4-