“Extance”. Is it an outward existence, or an ecstatic entity possessed by rapturous delight? Why not both? With their sophomore album, the Greek progressive black ensemble Aenaon have set out to expand the boundaries of the black metal genre by putting together different and diverse styles such as alt rock, jazz and blues within its traditional structures, all on a sophisticated, conceived manner. Extance is an introspective look that sets for consideration, a statement that simulates the question of individual’s self awareness in eleven parts.
“The First Art” is created in minor, subdued piano chords . A dark yet diffusing introductory track which serves as a befitting link to the “Deathtrip Chronicles” that is up next. The vocals are but uncontrolled rapids that forcefully mark the beginning of Extance. Constant changes, ranging from one string, palm-muted riffs to the driving pulse of quickly strummed chords, intense but infallible in sequence. The song’s middle section briefly unfolds the jazzy nature of the band, the saxophone parts are succeeded by the haunting melodies of the lead guitar and of course the complex riffs that lead us back to the original flow of the piece.”Grau Diva”, which follows, is the most straight-up song of the album in terms of composition, delineated by continuous and aggressive riffing, which is enhanced by desperate, chaotic screams. An ode to duality and the sexual confused status of the human substance, this diva is finally lead to her ecstatic climax. The work done in orchestration is stunning , all the changes are extremely attentive and despite the numerous layers of instruments and effects used, nothing seems overloaded or excessive. Everything comes through clearly, the transitions are seamless and the music remains very cohesive. Also worth mentioning is the very focused performance of the clean vocals and solos, something that Aenaon seem to have perfected in Extance.
Further down the record, “Der müde Tod” is truly rampaging. Featuring the most traditional and unfiltered black metal elements ever found on an Aenaon song, though there is much more than that. The transitions are ever-changing and surprising as to what this band is truly capable of, showcasing different sides of the same beast. Aenaon’s out of the ordinary take on black metal, is exactly what one could expect upon a band bearing the progressive black metal tag. Their prominent artistic approach is cannot be overlooked, the band draws influence from arts in generally whether it’s classical European cinema or visuals. ‘Closer to Scaffold’ is a rugged trail in emotional fluctuations between insanity and death. The course of the song reaches anthemic proportions, especially it’s chorus that feels enormous as if it’s a desperate , resisting shout before the very last step into the scaffold. There some distinctive Dødheimsgard sperms spotted here, as in “Deathtrip Chronicles”. The vast experimentalism and avant-thinking defines the album as a whole, it defines Aenaon’s identity as a whole. The majority of guitar parts sound dark and grandiose, offering themselves as main parts or bridges between all the stylistic changes. The efficient blend of synths, saxophone, bluesy guitar solos and acoustic strums accompanied by blast beat discharges are further proof that Aenaon have finally stabilized their sound perspectives. After the eccentric “Land of no Water”, that features Sigh’s Mirai Kawasima as a guest vocalist, yet another interlude is introduced. I find the use of those intervening pieces pretty much needed in records so heavy on information,as it lets the album breathe and the listener digest the music better.
Back to the album now, “Funeral Blues” appears as yet another surprise to an already multi-faceted album. This album is weighted by the sensational vocal delivery of Tanya who has imprinted and interpreted her parts with every ounce of herself. The singer of fellow Greek’s Universe217 is in perfect tie with Astrous’ own harsh screams that cover this highly theatrical totality, which is comprised of sounds and emotions rather than actors, this is definitely one of the most deep and interesting songs on the album. Last part of Extance is “Palindrome”, a recurrence of events, of sounds, of emotions. Quite a progressive venture that exceeds the 12 minute mark in duration. The song’s midpoint bears extensively the Opeth influence with delicate acoustic parts and laid down drum beats, then it gradually builds up to a heavier outbreak as the complex chord structures are introduced creating an epic climax that winds down yet suddenly return to the chaos soon after.
In brief, Extance incorporates varying degrees of black metal, from little to pervasive, it is masterfully executed and represents a clear sign of progression, despite the musical norms and constrictions of the black metal genre. An amalgam of bold ideas, an avant -garde constitution. Besides the band’s influences, this albums determines Aenaon’S own sound, and that is a perfectly healthy musical schizophrenia as the band itself states. 2014 is offering some exceptional releases from early on, definitely a must listen.
Avantgenre: A Perfectly Healthy Musical Schizophrenia
Duration: 65 Minutes
Official site: http://www.aenaon-band.com/
Review online since: 15.02.2014 / 12:24:56
01 – The First Art