ALBUM REVIEW: Aeonsgate ‘Pentalpha’

aeonsgate-pentalpha

AEONSGATE
‘Pentalpha’
The Church Within Records
(Released: 24 October 2014)
6/10

Are you listening, funeral doom and sludge bands? You thought 20 minutes was a long song? That’s child’s play! Aeonsgate’s ‘Pentalpha’ is a solitary track clocking in at seven minutes shy of the hour mark. This trance-inducing “doom opera” tells the tale of the first minutes of someone’s death. Written in 2012 by guitarist (and tattoo king) Jondix, it is an incredibly personal exploration, to the extent that you feel you are eavesdropping on a private prayer.

After an impressively self-indulgent eight-minute intro, the guitars and drums finally appear on the horizon like a doom tsunami. For the next 50 minutes or so, thumping, epic riffs rise and fall relentlessly, hypnotising, destroying, mourning. They create a slightly psychedelic, dark melancholia, drifting and meandering. It’s like walking through an ancient citadel in the still of night, filled at once with fear and awe. Each step into the unknown reveals a new shadow.

‘Pentalpha’ feels like an extended doom jam that keeps wandering but never arrives at a destination. A few of the riffs are pretty tame, and despite some interesting musical links between the giant song’s different sections, it is the familiar voice of Mats Leven (Candlemass, Therion, etc) that really helps the music to breathe. He is the star attraction here, and, when he lets rip rather than indulging in romanticised melodrama, his Rob Halford/Johan Langqvist tones can be very powerful.

There are hints of Tony Martin-era Sabbath, as well as Krux and Candlemass – inevitably – and while Aeonsgate do not have the same impact as those bands, there are a few goose-pimple moments, such as at 38:08 when the songs reaches new heights for a while. At various points throughout ‘Pentalpha’ theatrical keyboards are introduced to add a new emotional layer to the pounding doomy atmosphere. In fact, these synths are probably under-used because they really help to define the different parts of the sprawling song.

Aeonsgate unleash an immense doom metal sound and pack this hour-long song with grandeur and grunt. Produced by Billy Anderson, ‘Pentalpha’ certainly sounds great – heavy, rich and expressive. Featuring just one song and one theme, it can feel a bit one-dimensional, but the enormous riffs make it worthwhile and reward your patience. Take a journey beyond the grave with this intriguing collection of musicians and you will discover that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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