Saturday 22 November 2014

Downfall of Gaia - Aeon Unveils the Thrones of Decay (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-length
Date Released: 7/11/2014
Label: Metal Blade Records

‘Aeon Unveils the Thrones of Decay’ CD//LP//DD track listing:

01. Darkness Inflames These Sapphire Eyes (09:38)
02. Carved Into Shadows (10:21)
03. Ascending The Throne (02:38)
04. Of Stillness And Solitude (08:14)
05. To Carry Myself To The Grave (08:57)
06. Whispers Of Aeon (11:50)
07. Excavated (08:35)


Founded in 2008 and having undergone several changes on drums, the quartet is now comprised of Dominik Goncalves dos Reis (guitar and vocals), Peter Wolff (guitar and vocals), Anton Lisovoj (bass and vocals) and Michael Kadnar (drums), who are respectively located in Berlin, Hamburg, and New York City. Although the group's roots lie within the crust punk scene, they have become more closely associated with a sound that rather corresponds to the impact of an avalanche made from black earth, rock, and dirty sludge, while their lyrics poetically describe the dark side of living

In their early days, they released one demo, which was heavily influenced by d-beat, in addition to a split tape with French band Kazan in advance to a tour EP in 2009. Their debut album "Epos" followed in 2010, which was realized with the help of several DIY-labels.

The band's connection to the DIY and punk scenes eventually led to a split LP with In The Hearts Of Emperors on Alerta Antifascista, one of the most important punk labels in Germany, as well as Moment Of Collapse and Shove Records.

The band never intended to stagnate, and naturally their sound underwent significant changes. Downfall of Gaia drifted away from fast crust punk, which influenced their early work, towards longer and much slower material that became the more massive and doom and sludge.

In 2012, this new sound was heard on their second album, their first for legendary label Metal Blade Records, titled "Suffocating In The Swarm Of Cranes," which more than satisfied what fans of infinite heaviness longed for, and made its appearance in annual end-of-the-year and best-of lists among critics and editors.

Downfall of Gaia is:

Dominik Goncalves dos Reis | Vocals, Guitar
Peter Wolff | Vocals, Guitar
Anton Lisovoj| Vocals, Bass
Michael Kadnar | Drums


Sometimes an album just doesn’t click the way you’d like it to. It might have all the attributes, make all the right choices on paper, and each of its smartly-written, well-crafted songs might be performed with a strong execution and a perfectly-tailored production; but it just doesn’t resonate. To be honest, I’m at a loss to try and come up with anything more than just a gut feeling and a description as to where my brain goes when I listen to this album and nothing connects like it should. But that’s really all I can take away from ‘Aeon Unveils the Thrones of Decay’ each and every time I listen to it.

In 2012, ‘Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes’ felt like Downfall of Gaia were a band on the verge of something even more meaningful. That record on its own was plenty potent, featuring a thick mixture of post metal & black metal done in a way that felt separate enough from the Wolves in the Throne Room and the Deafheavens of the world, to blaze their own trail; one that might parallel those other bands, but never truly intersect with them style-wise.

While it’s true that ‘Aeon Unveils the Thrones of Decay’ still keeps them easily recognizable and distinguishable from the other bands dealing with similar components, that on its own isn’t enough this time around. The black metal aspect of this album is more hammering and ugly than on ‘Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes’, and it’s done to varying degrees of effectiveness throughout the album. That mean, ugly streak is something that could be attributed to the overall production of the album. The drums are a bit more dry and harsh. The guitars have a more biting and coarse tone. The vocals are often saturated with distortion and a reverb you might expect to hear from someone screaming while trapped in a small tin shack. The vocals in general often remind me of a deeper-voiced Steve Austin of Today is the Day on ‘In the Eyes of God’ in that respect.

The album is not without its highpoints. Halfway into “Of Stillness and Solitude”, things break down into a glorious half-time march guided by thunderous drumming, with a powerful octaved guitar riff so self-assured you can’t help but buy into the moment. From that moment on the rest of the song showcases the best of the album’s overall theme of blast-centric black metal and melodic tremolo guitar leads during the tempo breaks. Sadly, it feels like one of the only points where the formula succeeds completely. As someone who very much enjoyed ‘Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes’, I can’t help but feel like throwing the playbook out the window and throwing caution to the wind on the next album might be the route to go.

Words by: Daniel Jackson

You can pick up a digital copy here and a CD/LP copy here.

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