Published on Tuesday, 24 January 2017 02:59
Album title: Hypnosophy
Release date: 25 November 2016
02. Fire Walk With Me
03. Earth Tomb
06. Thus Ocean Swells
Aenaon really surprised me greatly. When I write a review, I don’t specifically focus solely on the current album. I do a complete review of the band's discography. Knowing it or not, I end up listening to their whole discography in order to analyze the evolution of music during time. So, let’s start. For those who have not yet heard them, Aenaon is a Greek progressive black metal band that started its journey in 2005. I will comment a little about the discography because it will be interesting to see that the evolution occurred. The first proper work was the EP Phenomenon released in 2009 by Bleak Art Records. I would not say that this first work was something avant garde, basically for my "taste" I would say it sounded a kind of light black metal. The second EP, A Parallel Zoetrope, released in 2010 had a very subtle change compared to the first in terms of instrumentals arrangements. But certainly was a very positive change, yet in this EP I noticed some dissonances in the vocal.
In 2011 Aenaon released their first full-length album, Cendres et Sang. An album which introduced a sax usage in their compositions, yet with aggressive tones, extremely intense and varied... That’s where the surprises come for me. Eccentric album, avant-garde, for sure. Aenaon didn't made a mosaic of heterogeneous elements and instruments from different genres, instead, they catch all this "ingredients" from other genres, let it be black metal, jazz or progressive rock, and merge them into a cohesive musical monolith, a kind of "music in one piece" as I like to call such work. I found formidable guitar arrangements with interweaving riffs, but, the voice however, remained far from the whole spirit. Unfortunately it soon became monotonous because of the timbre voice, way of singing and rhythmic pattern.
Later on two more EP's were released and then in 2014, the second full length album Extance. What a beautiful surprise is this album! It was certainly nice to see how avantgarde became Aenaon. The piano intro for me (a classic music lover as well) was outstanding. Aenaon with this album became a lot more eclectic. Extance also introduced a new drummer, Nycriz. This guy brought to Aenaon his jazz knowledge and also his talent with stringed instruments as oud, sazi and so one. So the variety of genres merged into the black metal terrain was something very pleasant when we think about something entirely new yet cohesive. But, the vocals... seems a little arrogant, lack the eerie and evil traits I appreciate. But again, without any doubt they reconfigured their style in something which is far more coherent than anything they did before.
Now ladies and gentlemen! Aenaon, third album, Hypnosophy (meaning"the science or the wisdom - of sleep"), released in the end of November 2016. The foundation is typical black metal sound with tremolo picked riffs, fast drumming and chords that alternate between being melodic and dissonant. Progressive, sometimes bizarre with intriguing deviations. Hypnosophy is an entrancing album. The striking title and the stunning dreamlike album art, made by the artist Łukasz Wodyński can give a glimpse of what is hiden inside. The opening track "Oneirodynia" (what means in English "the suffering of dreams") is atmospheric and slow, with a haunting solo from an omnipresent saxophone, heavy rhythm sections, manic and theatrical vocals, almost reciting rather than sing. For the seven-minute duration, “Oneirodynia” can hold you tight and throw you away in a bizarre yet captivating inner journey. On “Fire Walk With Me” the guitar/sax riff lingers well after the song ends. “Earth Tomb,” despite containing some bizarre spoken parts, I feel it too straightforward, plodding in comparison to the rest of the album. “Void”, the album’s most tranquil song, features some beautiful female vocals, I liked a lot this track. The sax in “Tunnel” is amazing. But “Thus Ocean Swells” is not good, a weak chorus sounding strangely. The atmosphere that was set and remain unabated during all the tracks, despite those I said wasn’t that good. The album ends with the longest song up here, "Phronesis/Psychomagic", marked by an atmospheric, slow and haunting solo from an omnipresent saxophone. Slower vocals and an underlying sense of upheaval lead to the best way to finish this experimental journey.
Hypnosophy sounds alive, new yet rough. The saxophone pops nicely, the bass feels full of power and the mix of instruments in general doesn't feel like distorted or excessively loud. I believe in this band, I see a lot of progress so far, from album to album, and I'm sure the next album will be more perfect. But I would like to say that, the vocals need to be adjusted, often the harmony does not exist, the voice does not follow the rhythm and sometimes it seems that it does not fit into the context. This is the only point that should have some more special attention in the future. Waiting anxiously for the next album.
Review written by: Felin Frost