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Aenaon - "Extance" (CD)

Aenaon - "Extance" CD cover image

"Extance" track listing:

1. The First Art
2. Deathtrip Chronicle
3. Grau Diva
4. A Treatise on the Madness of God
5. Der Mude Tod
6. Pornocrates
7. Closer to Scaffold
8. Land of no Water
9. Algernon’s Decadence
10. Funeral Blues
11. Palindrom

Reviewed by on January 21, 2014

"Score another win for Code666 Records: Greek outfit Aenaon is a fantastically varied outfit rooted in black metal and offering an early strong release for 2014."

Score another win for Code666 Records: Greek outfit Aenaon is a fantastically varied outfit rooted in black metal and offering an early strong release for 2014. Although more of an experimental album than many bands in the genre would be comfortable releasing, “Extance” remains hugely guitar focused, so it doesn’t ever lose its bearings in all the style mashing.

The dual guitar assault is easily one of the album’s high points, allowing any given song be both melodic and energetic at the same time. On several tracks, the two guitars split off in different directions – one keeping up the tempo in the back and the other taking the melody into the forefront – and it really gives off an Opeth vibe, if Opeth went black metal. The audible bass, jazzy compositions, and wobbly ‘70s keyboards don’t hurt either.

The sax elements on songs like “A Treatise on the Madness of God” are a nice touch, but despite press claims to the contrary, “Extance” is less an avant-garde release and more of just a well rounded, multi-genre one. For the most part the album doesn’t go into crazy Oblomov or To-Mera territory, but there are exceptions even to that rule. Harmonica appears out of nowhere on “Sound of No Water” and “Closer to Scaffold” utilizes psychedelic sound effects and discordant violins. “Funeral Blues” meanwhile hits the weirdness jackpot with big band style strings and horns, and vocals that bring to mind A Sound of Thunder or Huntress.

Listeners will also be served up some I.C.S. Vortex style singing on “Der Mude Tod.” In fact, the chants and clean segments are done well across the whole disc and actually add to the atmosphere – something that’s lacking in a good deal of black metal these days, as it seems like frequently those elements are done by rote without any real effort. “Grau Diva” may be the album’s crowning achievement, hitting all the different styles without going overboard or alternatively not going far enough. There’s atmospheric creepy black metal, weird moaning sound effects, harsh growls, fast paced riffing that brings in influences from outside genres, and then slightly weird synths that flirt with the carnival sound but don’t fully embrace it.

The production on “Extance” is a little muffled, making the disc one to enjoy with some quality headphones. That issue aside, the album is a very solid effort and well worth hearing for anyone who craves a metallic experience that doesn’t stick to one single style.

Highs: Great use of sax and jazzy compositions, fantastic atmosphere, and a dual guitar focus.

Lows: The production isn't perfect, and the weirdness level could really go either way with some wanting more and others wanting less.

Bottom line: Aenaon works all the prog and experimental angles without completely going off the rails, creating a well-rounded black metal experience.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)