Monday, 6 October 2014

Aeonsgate - Pentalpha (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 24/10/2014
Label: The Church Within Records

‘Pentalpha’  track listing:

1). ‘Pentalpha’ 59:53


Aeonsgate is a Doom project and it may become a cult . This first record called "Pentalpha" is a one hour long song that tells a sad, romantic and very heavy -doomy story of someone's first minutes of death.

Aeonsgate is the brainchild of Jondix (guitar player and founder of Great Coven, EIght Hands for Kali and Ätman-Acron). This time he is surrounded by amazing musicians. Mats Leven ( Krux, Malmsteen, Therion, Candlemass,...) is the singer and his agonic and beautiful voice makes the song as sad and dark as you can get. Joseph Diaz is the mysterious bass player who played before with the likes of Graham Bonnet, Bobby Martin,...) And finally Marco Minneman (Kreator, Necrophagist, Steven Wilson,...) on drums playing in a trance inducing sabbathic progressive way strange in this musical genre. This doom opera song mixes 70's, neoclassical and oriental elements and will be remembered as 2014 Doom's ultimate epitome . A lot of doom cliches and full of surprises, this record will change you forever...

The Band:

Mats Leven | vocals
Jondix | guitars
Joseph Diaz | bass and keyboard
Marco Minneman | drums


Well, this is unusual! One hour, one track and a lot of doom.  The Church Within Records is a German label of renowned quantity and this record is no exception to that reputation. It was recorded all over the world (Stockholm, LA etc) and boasts a cast of well known (but not household name) metal musicians. The presence of Marco Minneman (Kreator) is misleading- this is not thrash or even close. Mats Leven (Candlemass) handles vocals with admirable atmosphere. The record starts with synth, then violin brings a kind of classical feel, there is voiceover, sound effects... it's got the lot. The drums appear as stilted rhythms at first but progress on to become more insistent as the track goes on. The guitars are eerie and solid as the theme of the album unfolds.

It sounds to me, to be ruminating on mortality and specifically death itself and the thereafter. There are some magnificent riffs and soaring vocals around the eight minute mark and the track really takes off. It has a hypnotic insistence to the momentum and presses on with grandeur. A solo comes at the twenty minute mark after Leven has sung his heart out for the previous 12 minutes or so.

There is a definite feel of classic Rainbow or Dio in there- this is epic, grandiose stuff, po-faced and bringing lofty concerns. The track breaks down after twenty five minutes or so and sets things up for the next phase/movement. Synth rears up again- in the excellent way it did on 70's albums- and the track is off on another tangent. More guitar soloing follows and things continue to build up until the opening refrain returns at the 40 minute mark. Ambitious stuff- worthy of Dio or even Maiden in their prime.

There are central hooks that are returned to, here and there, as well as the evolving nature of the instrumentation. Solos abound through the hour long work, too, while the rhythm section holds things together with admirable stoicism throughout. The final solo is a treat to hear- it is epic in scope and length. The classical motif returns with five minutes to go, running water is sampled and the synth refrain comes back. With that, the hour long journey is at an end.

This is doom, that is for sure, and it is doom of epic breadth and depth. For me, it harked back right to the start of the genre- Sabbath, Rainbow, Dio et al. The track has a gothic feel in places, lots of imagery around scripture and death is there in the lyrics and it is dramatic without being overdone.

This really could be one of the most unusual and best doom releases of the year. The difference between this and something like “Dopesmoker” is like chalk and cheese, but this is a very worthy entry into the canon of lengthy doom tracks. You have to get through it in one sitting to get the full benefit, but cutting it in half around the 25 minute mark works well. Ambitious stuff that succeeds. There is not much higher praise than that!

Words by: Richard Maw

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