"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Aenaon - "Hypnosophy" (CD)

Aenaon - "Hypnosophy" CD cover image

"Hypnosophy" track listing:

1. Oneirodynia
2. Fire Walk With Me
3. Earth Tomb
4. Void
5. Tunnel
6. Thus Ocean Swells
7. Phronesis - Psychologic

Reviewed by on October 28, 2016

"'Hypnosophy' takes us on a tour across the musical spectrum and uses the sax as a legitimate member of the band, rather than just window dressing."

Whenever I get a Code666 album in my in box, I know I'm in for something top-shelf among the underground scene, and Aenaon didn't disappoint this time around. I recall very much enjoying the progressive black metal band's 2014 release “Extance,” but found myself thinking it was less avant-garde than was advertised. That's very much not the case with follow-up album “Hypnosophy,” which takes us on a tour across the musical spectrum and uses the sax as a legitimate member of the band, rather than just window dressing.

What strikes me most of “Hypnosophy” is how it is incredibly experimental and has all kinds of crazy sax passages, but it doesn't go so free-form and crazy that it ever loses the plot (that recent sax-heavy Brain Tentacles album comes to mind). There's very strong songwriting on display here, and not just weirdness for weirdness' sake. Best of all, the album is unquestionably metal, and of a very extreme variety as well, it just happens to have a wider palette of sounds to work with than the typical black metal release.

There are multiple vocal styles to be found, and oodles of tone and style transitions withing individual songs, from the apparently Twin Peaks-themed “Fire Walk With Me” to the mammoth 15 minute ending song “Phronesis.” While that's to be expected from an experimental or progressive album, they tend to be done in unique ways, like a sudden switch to jazzy piano underneath a guitar solo on “Fire Walk With Me” and the smooth as glass transition back to extreme metal a minute later.

Each song has something fantastic to offer, but “Thus Ocean Swells” in particular is worth noting for the chills-down-the-spine sensation of its mysterious intro segment. There's such an offbeat and unexpected tone to that song, even for an avant-garde release. Both “Thus Ocean Swells” and the following ending track really draw in the audience, offering the sonic equivalent of being drawn down the rabbit hole and forcing a listener to keep going and investigate further.

My only complaint? The bass is pretty low in the mix, which is an oddity for this style of music, and is frequently covered up by the sax. Other than that, “Hypnosophy” is easily Aenaon's best work to date and an album that deserves to be heard far and wide across the metal community.

Highs: Love sax in metal? This one offers everything you could ever want.

Lows: The sax has such a big focus it sometimes drowns out the bass

Bottom line: Extreme black metal meets progressive songwriting and a huge focus on the sax - this is one you want to hear.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
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)