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Droning guitars, shimmering cymbals and a bass so deep and muffled I presume it must be strung with Cthulhu's vocal chords. In comparison to the harsh and aggressive doom sound of Dwellers in Twilight, the music here is more dreamlike and labyrinthine. The guitars drone endlessly and wind around each other; the vocals are low and the lyrics hard to make out (unlike in Dwellers), giving the impression of voices carried on the wind from afar.
As I see it (and as the lyrics seem to attest), this half-hour long track tells a story, of drifting off to sleep and being carried across the universe by nameless forces, to a distant planet, perhaps another dimension - or perhaps Earth. The traveler comes upon an ancient structure (brilliantly depicted by Dan Seagrave on the cover), built by astral entities and buried beneath aeons, and then receives maddening visions of the catastrophic return of the Old Ones. Drawn inwards, wandering down infinite passageways, vacant minded and driven mad by hallucinations and unspoken voices: "Those... who... came... before... from... shadows... will... return... in triumph... now... return..." That's the gist of it anyway; the lyrics, art and music tell it better than I can.
Though I have listened to this track more than a few times, it's such a mesmerizing experience that I find it hard to recall exactly what goes on in it musically - but there are definite movements in the music which correspond to elements of the story: a hypnotic period of relatively high-pitched droning guitars (sleep and astral journey); then an unsettling section dominated by an almost militant sounding snare drum (coming across the weird structure); following by a deeper drone and almost tribal drumming (entering the structure and receiving visions of doom); then a forlorn sounding climax (presumably the sound of coming to terms with the aforementioned visions). Closing the piece is a repetitive section with clean guitars and incessant drumming, which evokes a feeling of numbness and the onset of insanity felt by many of Lovecraft's characters when, after having glimpsed the void, they try in vain to return to normal life.
Aldebaran accomplish musically what H P Lovecraft did with stories. Plenty of bands utilise Lovecraftian concepts and imagery, but few succeed in capturing that cosmic terror which comes from facing up to something which is utterly incomprehensible, beyond the human mind - and almost certainly sinister.
It took them 4 years (the 2 split releases couldn’t fill the void) but it was worth it. This time, gentlemen Kody Keyworth (L’Acephale and, recently, Wolves In The Throne Room) and Tim Call (The Howling Wind) team up with partners Josh Banke and Todd Janeczek to make Aldebaran shine even more brightly in the night sky.
Although their recent effort “Buried Beaneath Aeons” is only an EP, the fact that it consists of one track solely in its entire 27 minute length, proves that with this band it well never get to easy listening. First thing that comes to mind is, that they take some distances from the drier sound of “Dwellers In Twilight” full length and turn towards doom/death as their form of expression. The track starts in acoustic mode, before it dives into the swamp of apocalyptic, ultra slow doom praising the coming of the Ancient Ones (whoever they are). The monotonous rhythm continues, backed up by heinous vocals and a drone sub-layer, absorbing the listener, until it reaches climax (mostly emotionally rather than its pace) and closes with yet more acoustic tones.
Less haunting, but more spiritual than “Dwellers…”, “Buried Beneath Aeons” is a fine step of a band seeking new shores to explore. Add some perfect Dan Seagrave art (the cover being a distant cousin of Morbid Angel’s “Gateways To Annihilation”) and we get another small gem in today’s re-emerging doom/death scene. In triumph…now…return…
Originally written for:
Side A of this 1 track album begins with a 2 or 3 minute intro of slow, light plucking. Immediately, I get the sense that Aldebaran is paying homage to Earth with this intro since there is definitely a Plague of Angels feel to the incredibly down-tempo, southern (almost country) guitar work. Soon, this guitaring is aided with the support of some familiar Aldebaran-style slow (but not simple), well-timed drums.
After a minute or so of drums, we lead more into familiar Aldebaran territory, though still with the Earthy guitar work. The relentlessly crushing, doom-filled vocals fill the listener with feelings of despair and desolation which, judging by the lyrics' wonderful gloominess, seems to be the idea of Buried Beneath Aeons. Unlike in, for example, Pillars of Geph, the vocals on this album are much more ambient, seemingly farther away and a little less understandable.
Side B starts by leaving the southern-heavy guitar work behind. Instead, we are met with something more akin to Dwellers in Twilight-era Aldebaran. A slow, steady beat continues to crush the listener with similar weight as Pillars of Geph, though the vocals (while truly horrifying) are still somehow different from what I've heard in Aldebaran before. Soon this gives way to faster-paced (still pretty slow; this is Aldebaran we're talking about), cymbal-heavy drum work.
After the faster pace, the song drops the drums and slows down for a moment, seemingly to appreciate the return of the southern-style guitar licks. Picking up the pace again, the outro takes the listener back into the drums for another 5 or 6 minute session of sounds and cymbal work before quietly dropping off somewhere around 27 minutes.
This album really is a masterpiece. The one track delivers enough of the dynamic crushing and plodding necessary to vegetate the listener for its duration, so I recommend that this album be enjoyed with at least a single bowl.