AeonsgateThe place is Latveria, and on upon his iron throne, the absolute monarch of the country Doctor Victor Von Doom seethes within the armour that is his battle suit and second skin.  “How is it that I am again defeated by the Fantastic Four?  Am I not the greatest scientist the world has ever known?  Do I not command an army of fanatics and control the very vital forces that bind the universe together?  How shall I defeat my enemies?”  Metal chin resting on his iron fist like a statue hewn from the stuff of nightmares, every second his unmatched intellect runs through a thousand scenarios, and in each he is defeated.  Slowly, a new plan dawns upon him, and from a place seemingly deep within his very soul a chuckle rumbles forth, rising into a howl of triumph.  “Doom is my name and metal is my form; with my very own creation of Doom Metal I shall conquer, crushing all before me!”  Deep in the depths of his castle laboratory Doctor Doom’s fiendish plan comes to life, as his minions scour the globe to bring together elements from around the world, gathered and merged as much by magic and alchemy as science to give his blasphemous creation form.  “Bring me the vocals of Candlemass”, he screams to one lackey.  “Go to Père Lachaise Cemetery, bring me the DNA of Jim Morrison as I need his dark poetry”, he orders another.  “I need keyboards!  Bring me the hands of Rick Wakeman!”  An Igor like shape stalks off into darkness to follow out its orders.  Shadowy figures are dispatched and Victor Griffin’s guitar is brought to the lab, yet still the creation is not ready.  Finally, a hole is torn into the very fabric of space and time, and from Samuel Barber, the essence of his Adagio in Strings is ripped from his mind.  For countless hours, Doom toils in his lab and finally he screams in triumph.  “My creation lives, and I shall call it Aeonsgate, and its hour long battle cry shall be ‘Pentalpha’, ha, ha, ha, ha, HAAAA!”

And that gentle reader, is how I’d like to imagine the single track album ‘Pentalpha’ came into being.  The band’s bio reads somewhat differently, claiming it was not a comic book super villain that spawned Aeonsgate, rather Jondix of Great Coven and many other acts has gathered together a doom metal super-group, the result being a near 60 minute long concept piece of the thoughts and fears of a man at the point of death.  Whilst Sleep with ‘Dopesmoker’ created a single track album of similar length with deeply hypnotic repetition, ‘Pentalpha’ is a track that flows from movement to movement like a symphony of doom metal, but always playing on the same dark theme of despair and loss so that it works as a single piece.  To my mind, there is not a single section that could, or for that matter, should be taken in isolation and reworked into a single or part of a live set; rather the album plays best in a single uninterrupted listening.  Some folks may not accept that, and be put off by the idea of such an epic, but listening to the whole whilst a potential challenge, is most rewarding.  As well as congratulating the musicians and this unique project, let me congratulate The Church Within for having the stones to support such a novel project.

(8/10 Spenny)