without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
I have been a big fan of this band's recorded output from the beginning. Be it the gloomy, hypnotic, celtic inspired Aeternus of old, or the later day more deathly Aeternus, I've always considered them to be underrated and overlooked.
However, Hexaeon has been in my collection for 5 years now, and I still cannot decide if I like it or not. Credit where it's due, this album is for the most part, unlike much of what they've done before and it also doesn't really sound like any other band. But it doesn't really work either.
The highpoints: 'The Darkest of Minds' kicks the album off with a staticy intro that soon explodes into an all-out high speed riff-fest. Throw in a couple of interesting time changes and a great clean guitar part in the middle and things are looking up. 'Godhead Charlatan' is a mid-paced assault that wouldn't have sounded out of place on their previous couple of albums and is the album highlight for me. 'The 9th Revolution' maintains a dark and ominous feel throughout and is a great display of how talented a song writer Ares can be when it comes to mood and dynamics. The album closer, 'What I Crave' packs many an interesting idea both musically and vocally. Weaving in and out of blast, doom and groove then back again, with simplistic yet catchy riffs all the while. Never expected to hear Ares croon either, but it fits believe it or not and ends the album on a much better note than i was expecting.
The word that springs to mind for what lies in-between tracks 3 and 9 is INCOMPLETE. 'In the 3rd Dwells Oblivion' sounds like the first song minus the interesting time changes and great clean guitar part in the middle. In a word: rehashed. 'Hexaeon' has a cool 8 string bass intro that leads into a sludge riff that Pantera would be proud of. Keep repeating the same riff, go back to the intro to break the boredom, and then back to the bland Pantera riff. Repeat til fade. 'Punished' goes for the throat up until half way through. It loosens its grip momentarily and you’re expecting it to lunge at you again, but with both hands this time. Instead, it looks at you, slightly irritated and then walks off in the other direction. Musically speaking, it repeats the same order of riffs (all two of them) before an overlong fadeout. This song by the way is only 2:58, and the fade out takes care of roughly 40 seconds of the song. As for the next two songs: 'Ageless Void' - see 'Hexaeon' minus the 8 string bass intro and fadeout. 'Christbait' - see 'Punished' minus the fadeout.
In all seriousness, this album is a frustrating listen as it sounds as if the band were under the gun from their label to get into the studio and get an album out post-haste. That would explain the uninspired songwriting, short running time and low grade production (I’ve heard better demo's). I don't think this is the case though, as from memory this was recorded a full year before it was released.
With the follow-up due out next year, this has given them six years to right the numerous wrongs on display here.
I have high hopes.
Ever since Beyond The Wandering Moon, Aeternus has been a band that I have enjoyed alot. Both their earlier black metal material and more recent blackened death metal fare. Although I will admit that Ascention of Terror was not a complete let down, I felt that Aeternus could do much better. The two tracks that I heard off A Darker Monument were, to say the least, not really my thing. I thought that it was possible that once again a band I enjoyed was going the route of a sneezing Houdini in one of his submersian tricks.
And then, Hexaeon.
Ares has unleashed upon us nine tracks of dark, metallic, fury. The production is excellent. Every instrument screams with a need of acknowledgment. I want to mention the Vocals first because they are, in my opinion, the weakest aspect to this album. Its not that they arent good. Certain times they just sound like Steven Hawking singing through the blades of a bedroom oscillating fan. But its not really as awful as it sounds. Anyway...Guitars, provided by Ares, cut shrill paths throughout the albums depthless flesh and gut whatever is left over. Not technical, but pounding in every way. V'gander's bass is fantastic. No, hes not gonna be given any awards by the progressive rock fans but to these ears, he provides alot of the awesomeness of the album with a fantastic tone and low end. Erik's drumming is also of mention, of course. Alot of cool fills and great groove complete the music of this album. If Ares is the blasphemous knight, V'gander is his steed, trampling the allies of their enemies beneath his blood-soaked hooves.
To the songs: This is a brilliant collection of music. It might be the song's arrangement... but awesome. Opening tracks "The Darkest Of Minds" and "Godhead Charlatan" are crushing mid tempo songs. Third track "The 9th Revolution" is the weakest track in my opinion. From the 4th track onward though is gold - possibly gold removed the walls of the vatican by demons. "In The 3rd Dwells Oblivion" is a much faster track. The HUGE breakdown entering the final 40 seconds or so of the song is so utterly destructive in nature. Title track "Hexaeon" breaks the pace slightly with a clean guitar intro. The first usage of clean guitars until "Christbait." Track Six, "Punished" includes a bridge that erupts with innate violence. Ageless Void, and Christbait are both solid songs but closer "What I Crave" harkens back to the more black metal days of Aeternus with some enchanting clean vocals, grim melodies, and the albums finest moment... a emotion tinged solo pulling together the album.
I think that this album is nothing but a precursor of things (great things) to come. The black metal days of Aeternus, as glorious as they were are well in the past. This new Aeternus is not better or worse than the elder/younger vision of Aeternus. It is simply a different method of showing that vision.
HeXaeon is Aeternus’ 6,66th album. We all know it’s not that easy to maintain the high-level after 5,66 albums, but this band once again proved that they are worth of listening, they still have the gift to write interesting songs. Of course many will disapprove that this is a fine release, but that’s their problem.
I was also skeptical at the first listenings, it wasn’t too easy to enter the feeling of the new songs and the sound was a little weird as well. But something happened (hot spell from the long and sunny summer days) and I hopped the train. If you don’t know Aeternus, imagine a dark and heavy blend between death, black and doom metal with a thick and deep sound. Imagine a huge old dense rock, which suffered heavy precipitations for a long time, but its still tough, strong and impenetrable. The guys are delivering mainly mid-tempo extreme metal, threatening (Morbid Angel influenced) death metal riffs, Black Metal moods, doom metal marchings are all present here, materialized in a solid and unique blend. They also have acoustic breaks, and the vocals are various too.
I recommend for everyone in search for dark and heavy extreme metal the 6,66th album (besides the 6 full-lengths they also have a longer EP) of these Norwegian veterans.