Released: 2012, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Brutal and blasphemous, yet with moments of eerie beauty, the fourth album from Sweden's Aeon is a modern blackened death metal masterwork that lifts the band up from mere underground miscreants and into the same league as Behemoth, Deicide or Vader.
The quintet cut right to the chase with “Still They Pray, which opens in a fusillade of drums, grinding riffs and singer Tommy Dahlstöm's flame-throwing bellowing about the futility of faith: “Your savior is gonnnnnnne!” The crushing Cannibal Corpse-y groove mid-song is a nice touch. “Dead Means Dead,” “Sacrificed” and the title track echo similar sentiments, and are delivered with equal venom and zeal. An added layer of background/harmony shrieking – a la Napalm Death or Brutal Truth – makes it all the more diabolical, like something out of “The Evil Dead.”
But Aeon also have a knack for sophistication and aren't afraid to introduce quiet interludes, sleek, almost delicate soloing or traces of orchestration into the maelstrom. The instrumental asides “Passage to Hell” and “Aftermath” help break the tension, albeit briefly, while the deft guitar work of “Nothing Left to Destroy” and “Maze of the Damned” and the monumental conclusion to “Die By My Hands” gives Aeons Black an epic feel and character that transcends the typical.
The full, thunderous sound here helps in that regard, as well. Instead of slathering everything in the raw crustiness that typified early Swedish death metal – and which is back in fashion again - Aeon go for the gusto with comparatively clean, brash production that packs bombast in spades and delivers the sort jaw-busting punch old-fashioned grit often cannot.
Aeons Black is big, bold and bad-ass as Aeon really step up their game here.