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Work of Art from the underground - 93%

TheDreamless, September 3rd, 2011

Here we have Aenaon's first full album, released on the 14th of June (2011) by Code666 records (house and incubator of bands such as EPHEL DUATH, ABORYM, NEGURA BUNGET, THE AXIS OF PERDITION among others). When listening Code666's name and seeing the artwork one can easily expect no less than a grandiose avant-garde/experimental journey. But is that so?

Cendres et Sang (French for Ashes and Blood - the band is from Greece though), begins with a mysterious noire jazz, saxophone only, composition which follows no set of predefined rules, no crescendi or riff-like melodies and is quickly accompanied by drums and accoustic guitars in the beginning of Suncord. From that very point Aenaon show their true self. Powerful well played and balanced "black" metal
trueful to the schools of Shining, Code and Dodheimsgard.

The first thing that strikes the listener is the clarity and rawness of the production. It is an easy exit for bands of the genre to use a "half-baked" fake vinyl-like production, for the sake of coolness (I too want my CDs to sound like granpa's gramophone) and coolness only, but Aenaon have picked a different and harder route.
Simply put the production is good and taking consideration that this is a new band we 're talking about, one could say great. All the instruments sit well in the mix with the guitars having the well-deserved dominant role. The drums sound great and since there is no drummer mentioned in the booklet I cannot understand if it is a human player or a drum machine. If it is a human, then congratulations to him for his great work, else, if it is the latter congratulations to the person who programmed them, since it would be one of the best drum machines used in metal. Ever.

The guitar solos are trully the highlight of this album's musicianship - never too long to end up being "Oh look how fast I play" nonsense, and straight to the point. Usually introducing new melodic material and leading the songs to their best momments. The vocals performance is not lacking either with Astrous' screaming like there is no tomorrow (similar to his performances on Aenaon - Phenomenon, and Disolvo Animus - Aleatoric Morte). There is some experimentation in the vocals sector with some passages resembling Attila's low grunts and well performed but scarce clean vocals that bring Primordial to mind, those are a great addition too.

Most of the tracks follow classic extreme metal patterns and are fast in tempo. The avant-gardness comes from momments where jazzy patterns emerge, in the rhythm guitars and saxophone, and also through the use of weird almost retro sound effects in keyboards and clean vocals juxtaposed against a powerful metal bane.

You will find no kitsch circus sounding melodies, no music box, nor grown up men immitating whispers of children here. The lyrics deal with issues such as paranoia, destruction and insanity (not very original themes) but compliment the music nicely. As noted, the band refuses to perch on "gimmicks" and tricks to promote themselves as wacky and original, no out of the blue tempo changes here or obscure instruments use. Instead it seems that they spent most of their time crafting wellthought and powerful songs that rely on... good riffs. Something that seems lacking these days, well thought catchy riffs.

The album seems to have no filler tracks, except for perhaps the last one "In Heaven" which is a cover of "Lady in the radiator" song from Mr Lynch's Eraserhead. While most people seem to highly praise the band for this cover - it seems that this song ultimately and unfortunately falls short when compared to the rest of the album. It's not a bad song, it's just the fact that it is the original played with full distortion and fast blastbeats. Perhaps even akin to silly versions of popular songs black-metalized. But as mentioned before the cool-factor dictates that this song is the best, only because it bears Lynch's name.

Standout tracks include, Psychonautic Odyssey, Necroscope and the epic and true album closer Black Nerve.

On viewing Aenaon's history - one would expect different. While the band consists of members of Varathron, Disolvo Animus and Nethescerial, Aenaon resembles none of these bands but instead branches out to be something entirely different, proficient in its category and place. If you are a fun of bands such as Shining, Code, DHG, Deathspell Omega - you should check out Aenaon immediately. And if you are a supporter of the underground scene, perhaps you have just found the best underground extreme metal album of 2011.