Published on Sunday, 09 February 2014 21:38
Album title: Extance
Release date: 20 January 2014
Label: Code666/Aural Music
01. The First Art
02. Deathtrip Chronicle
03. Grau Diva
04. A Treatise On The Madness Of God
05. Der Mude Tod
07. Closer To Scaffold
08. Land Of No Water
09. Algernon's Decadence
10. Funeral Blues
It has never been an easy job to put a label onto one’s music, especially if the music has somehow drifted into the experimental paths of a certain genre. But with certainty I can claim Aenaon’s Extance is avant-garde at its finest. Their unique fusion of black metal with classical jazz and bluesy touch is simply remarkable. Inside this genre, that allows so much, but needs precision and focus, Extance is everything you could wish for.
The Greek ensemble’s second album opens up very promising with an instrumental "The First Art", which starts as an obscure, classically-driven piano melody, which later on becomes accompanied by other instruments and bursts into a mesmerizing melody. Aenaon is using two guitars, which is really precious for the band’s sound, as the two guitars are so perfectly entwined - one carrying out the rhythm and the other drifting further into insane solos. Sounds pretty classic black metal? Well, from time to time it is, like for example on "Grau Diva" with its mid-tempo rhythm reminding of Satyricon at the beginning of the song, but evolving so profoundly into deranged melody, created by a haunting and psychedelic keyboard tune. Same goes for "Der Mude Top", which immediately explodes with fast drumming and guitars, but halfway through the song it changes its course, adds a bit of that intense saxophone and takes the song to a whole another level. And the beauty of it lies, how incredibly smooth, precise and focused these passages are.
But Extance gives you so much more. The almost 13 minutes in length, "Palindrome" is an example of progressive extreme metal at its top. Creating such vivid images of derangement, it reminds a bit of Vulture Industries and their approach to avant-garde. But Aenaon stay much more true to the black metal in its core. With the addition of jazz elements, blues guitar melodies, a piano or keyboard tune now and then and the combination between harsh and clean vocals, one could not wish for a better balance between all these elements. "Funeral Blues" is also a song that needs mentioning. Its saxophone solo gives an impression you are in a movie scene: in a bar, full of smoke, beautiful women, elegant men, whiskeys on tables and a jazz band playing a slow, dreary song on stage. And for a bit more variety, a short piano instrumental "Algernon’s Decadence" is there to lift you into the gloomy ambient just a bit more.
When sinking into the waters of experimental metal, a lot is expected, with two main characteristic: the music must be diverse and the single elements must be combined into perfection. And that is just what Extance is about. But it is also so much more. It tells a story, it takes a listener on an odyssey through undiscovered and dark emotions and moments of insanity. Aenaon’s debut Cendres Et Sag, is probably bursting with pride, for having such a strong, melodic and spectacular successor. Pushing the sound to its limits and veiling black metal in such highly enjoyable classic colours is more than worth checking out.
Review written by: Ines