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Eternal Contempt of Man! - 89%

Sinvocation, May 11th, 2010

The type of classic album that takes a little while to fully unravel its mastery. Some albums you hear, and they instantly click and compel you. If such an album doesn't grow stale after repeated listens, you usually deem it as 'good' or 'great', or in some cases, 'classic.' This album has grown into an absolute favorite of mine, but it's the kind of sound that slowly creeps into your mind, and slowly revels its greatness. This, in a way, almost makes the album stick with you a little more. I was initially drawn to this band by their name, years ago, but assumed they were another sloppy Canadian band occupying the stagnant 'war' metal slew and wouldn't have much to offer. Well, that's an entirely incorrect assumption, because this band offers a lot more than just about ninety percent of their peers, in all genres. This is raw, bestial, molten 'war' metal, infused with touches of folky melody and elaborate song structures verging on the progressive, whilst sparsely shading it in the effervescent darkness of noise and power electronics.

So, if there's one word to astutely depict this album, it would be 'monolithic.' Yes; this album is massive. For something so raw and abrasive, Mito certainly conflate the primal savagery of their 'war' metal background with many interesting things, both in songwriting and tone. From the very beginning of the unsettling "Chapter 11" which opens this album, each song on this album feels very much like a 'chapter.' I'm not sure if this is a concept album, but even if it's not, there's still something very engaging about the album's craft and order. It's interesting to hear how effective the album begins with "Into the Pit of Babel"; a song which I believes represents Mitochondrion's music scope well. Beginning with a barrage of sincere and sardonic riffing that carries a mood of terror, before plundering into a calm melodic section (one of the most beautiful you'll hear) and then back into the chaos, Archaeaeon is almost like a quest that takes many turns; this gives it the depth it has, and it reflects the multi-faceted character of the album as it becomes a sprawling, eleven-limbed beast.

Over these eleven tracks, there exists a vast accumulation of feelings, but it's all firmly entrenched in a shroud of beastly force. The sound on these tracks is downright intense, and even beyond that, it's intimidating (both in its creativity, as well as its animus abrasiveness.) This is partially due to the tandem of Nick and Shawn's severely menacing vocals. Nick possesses a bestial, gutteral roar similar to Jason Oliver, though perhaps sounding even a little more spirited. Shawn matches behind him, with deep, impish shrieks; and although it's usually Nick dominating the mic, there are times where they share vocal duties simultaneously and it actually sounds like a duo of two of Hell's meanest demons lashing out from the madness.

But beyond that, these songs all contain an acclamation of different speeds, moods and breaks in style, that gives each song a unique identity, but also staying close to the thematic stylings of other songs; giving this that perfect mix of consistency and variety that so many bands fail to effectively weave into their works. Equally impressive is the fact that the three longest tracks here are the most engaging and gripping on the album. Mito are almost a band that need to write lengthy tracks, because the output of their ideas expands to such a large degree. The shorter tracks aren't what you'd call dispensable, but at times I imagine what could have been, had the band combined tracks like "Agonizing" with "Infernal Weapons Summons". But with three smashing epics, the back-to-back combination of "Descent" and "Wraithlike" and plenty of Shawn's brooding, visceral riffs in between, you soon stop caring how long tracks on this album are. The band fluctuates from speedy dissonance to sharp, angular harmonic melody, to vexatious (in a good way, obviously) staccatos and folky passages alongside dark, cavernous power electronic noise, among other things, within the span of about two songs. And it continues until you've endured the path of Archaeaeon. It's an immense and foreboding listen, that for me, became a journey, until it ended after over an hour. For many, this will be a puzzling, polarizing work, if not only for the production. It's characteristic of that commonplace 'war' metal mix; thin, tinny guitars slightly faded from the loud thundering drums and vocals. However, seeing as I sometimes enjoy very fucked-up production, I seem to find this album's production suitable in a way. I do wish the guitars had more punch, but as it is; it still feels grainy and cavernous. It will probably take effort into wrapping your psyche around all this album does, if not only for its rigid production, but when the finality of it is realized, Archaeaeon will shift into the shape of a masterwork.