Saturday, May 15, 2010

Aeon - Dark Order

Aeon - Dark Order
2001, Deathvomit/Necropolis Records

'Playing blasphemously brutal death metal in a completely un-Swedish style - homicidal and pitiless - Aeon churn up dark and aggressive violence...'

Such is the word from Aeon's label. Right after this the bio/press sheet goes on to compare this band to Morbid Angel and Deicide, or at least tell the tale of influences...and to be fair I do hear a fair amount of the Benton four in here, as one hears in almost every death metal band these days, but when a label compares a band to Azagthoth or Benton's outpourings, it just really means that they belong in the grand death tradition, that's all. Does such a comparison really make sense, or does it tell you anything? Are there any bands out there not influenced by Morbid Angel? I don't think so. What I hear on this disc is not so much early Florida as New York, and latter-day Tampa by way of Buffalo: meaning Suffocation and Cannibal Corpse. A few listens should convince you of this...combining the random, chaotic pummelings of NY brutal death metal with the abstract, left-of-center guitar flashes of 'Vile', Aeon are atypical in the Swedish scene at this point, as this bio further relates, as the Swedes have given up their souls to In Flames and the NWOSDM swirling Depeche Mode vagaries that pass for caustic/energetic music in Gothenburg at this point. I blame it all on At The Gates, in case you were wondering. This mini-album (which was actually the band's demo, and if I hadn't read this fact in a notice I wouldn't have known it - the production is faultless and powerful) was released in a series of promos across the world without cover art or inserts of any kind, which seriously takes away from the album's presentation and total effect, but, after all, it's all about the music...so...let's ignore the accidents of the promotional trade and delve straight into the songs...

First of all, the concussive violence on display here is very refreshing at this point- not because this band is Swedish and are somehow 'rebelling' against their own music scene, but just because this sort of music has faded from notice lately. Not exactly brutal to the point of indecipherability, like many of the goregrind/extreme death metal bands of the last five years, Aeon combine their abstract sense of dark melody with a bloodthirstiness, a sort of perverse fascination for corporeal liquefaction and trauma, that is, at times, absolutely frightening. While you are listening to these songs you will notice that the lyrics - or at least the vocals, I don't have the lyric sheet - concentrate furiously and monomaniacally on two main simple themes: blood and hatred. These cruel obsessions come together perfectly in the track 'Bloodlust', the fifth on this disc, where their sanginary and sadistic mania rises to new heights of viciousness - the song basically being a prayer, or litany, to Lucifer, calling on his guidance to become a sort of 'blood god', a reaper for the underworld, a type or category of infernal killing machine...the effect of this entire piece is chilling, eerie, and more powerful than you'd think. In fact, throughout this song, with the vocalist's liquid esophageal contortions and the 'swarming' melodies - flying in, out, left, right, up and down - it is as if you are deep underground, waiting for death in the bowels of an abattoir, a burning abyss, and drowning, slowly, in the blood of victims that have been sacrificed before you...this albums leads to nightmares.

Musically, this is mid-90s death metal, sent through a Swedish filter, to be sure, but nonetheless filled with enough 'progressive' elements (meaning strange riffs or breaks) to still gain your attention and hold it for at least one listen. The most impressive part of this entire CD, I feel, is the guitar recording, as the six-strings are almost inhumanly heavy, a constant whipping, cracking, crunching barrage of rhythmic micro-riffs and muted chords. Listening to this on headphones a few times, I was stunned by the level of homicidal intent on display here...

These six songs are all centered, thematically, on a sparse range of ideas as well, aside from the phrases repeated in the lyrics, such as: a) the killing of Christians; b) the raping and murder of Christians; and c) Demons unleashed from hell in order to e) kill and rape Christians. So, a fine effort, really, and a very responsible, creative series of lyrical subjects...but one, however, that perfectly fits the music.

Aside from this, just a matter of teasing, I don't have that many criticisms to point out here. One thing that I did notice is that Aeon often end compositions on riffs that seem poised to open up entirely new song segments...I thought this was strange, and sort of bad taste on their part, because in two instances at least on this album I mourned the ending of a segment that could have been explored much further if Aeon concentrated on the logical unfolding of melodies and their variations instead of just charging ahead to the next segment, break, or riff. So these songs are...scattered a bit here and there, as if the band were very impatient to just get back to a chorus (the songs are very traditional verse/chorus affairs) or to the end of the song. Also, because this is mainly derived, I am guessing, from the 'claustrophobic' style of NYDM, this concentration on a few essential melodies and rhythms, I am thinking that Aeon never really decided/wanted to 'break open' their song structures and inject more melodic/easy-breathing segments...no, it's just all attack, attack...seeking to suffocate, pulverise, and strangle you, and then drain the blood from your body.

Recommended, I would think, mainly for those desperate souls out there who are into the most violent forms of death metal.