Coming off the back of the success of their debut album, 2012’s ‘Swallowed by the Ocean’s Tide’ which received pretty much unanimous praise worldwide, Germany’s Sulphur Aeon return once more to lay the smack down on your unsuspecting heads with the monstrous weight of the great old ones themselves. Heaving with planetary magnitude and rumbling with the power of Cthulhu, they once more resurrect their Lovecraftian death metal from the very depths, rippling with interminable threat and sizzling with incandescent horror.
Opening with ‘To Drown This World’, you’re immediately met with maximum eeriness, worshipping whispers, a stormily throbbing synth and swathes of universal darkness. Never before have I been so deeply enveloped into the whole Lovecraftian mythos by musical pieces before, every arrangement and nuance sounding as though it’s emanating from the darkest depths of R’lyeh, with echoing melodies, rumbling guitars and primal (yet clearly enunciated) growls all weaving together with sickly, stringy phlegm which binds them into a veiny cocoon of tightly fitted death metal delights. Akin to Yog-Sothoth, the draw of this album is older than time, with the likes of ‘Seventy Steps’, ‘Titans’ and ‘Calls From Below’ all sounding as though they’re echoing from the darkest, undiscovered corners of the universe, reverberating through the earth’s crust, pulsating in all matter past, present and future.
On a musical level, everything is flawlessly executed and bubbling with an effervescent spirit, melodies tinged with eastern flavours and recanting the very best death metal you’re likely to hear in 2015. It’s consistently epic, dexterous and with a seemingly endless palette to draw from. But ‘Gateway to the Antisphere’ takes on a life of its own beyond the music, and actually had me digging out my old Lovecraft novels for a much needed revisit. It’s not very often I’m completely enraptured by an album from the very first playback, but I found every repeat listen further attaching itself to my heart with slimy tentacles, never to be parted without wanton damage to my most important of organs. Yes, ‘Gateway To The Antisphere’ has been part of my daily routine for a couple of weeks now, with its engrossing content, massive atmospheres, highest tier songwriting and intimidating persona all piecing together with such beauty that it’s hard not to sound like an overbearing fan boy. Somehow, they’ve managed to blow their debut out of the water, and created something which has an almost corporeal presence due to the luxurious depth and complexity of its content.
I seriously considered giving this a maximum score, but came across the usual question of “is any album truly 100% perfect”? ‘Gateway To The Antisphere’ likely comes as close as it gets for me. I can only use so many superlatives, but this album has truly blindsided me. I will merely suggest, nay implore you to listen to it the moment you have a chance. Even the artwork kicks all sorts of arse. A sure fire contender for my album of the year already, it’s going to take some serious beating to surpass. Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fhtagn!
(9.75/10 Lars Christiansen)