When I checked, for some reason I wasn’t surprised when I noticed. that this, the third album from Greek ‘progressive black metallers’ Aenaon was on Code666. Just something about its chaotic, semi industrial sound mixed in with the progressive elements. Well at least after it crushed the initial idea from the intro of ‘Oneiridynia’ when I thought I might be in luck and got handed something like Midnight Odyssey. That dreamlike, fluid intro is suitably annihilated by an utter clatter of black metal riffing, a swirling, pummelling sound that reminded me of a melange of Aborym, Arcturus and Ulver including seemingly omnipresent saxophone to hammer that home. Second track ‘Fire Walk With Me’ pounds the heavy mixture with a brutal and utterly convincing delivery, great vocals bellowing and rising above it. ‘Earth Tomb’ even adds in an amazing vocal hookline of welcome to hell in a very Rotting Christ style. Not exactly my idea of dreamlike as the PR proclaims but each to their own style of slumber.
There is really so much to like and to admire here: The adept handling of the compositions and progressive elements; the surety in the varied and occasionally magnificent vocals; the technical but never clinical attack of the sound as a whole. Genuinely if a chaotic sounding but actually controlled hybrid of Aborym, Arcturus and Ulver sounds like heaven then check them out.
So all good. Except this is where being a reviewer gets difficult. I’m a fan of all those bands mentioned and a band like Aenaon who so skilfully have woven their own sound out of those influence threads to make their own cloth should be a natural for me. Sadly though this is for me one of those looking glass albums; I gaze at the talent and skill on show, applaud it generally but when I reach it to touch it, to become involved, I feel a cold hard surface that I just can’t seem to push through. It doesn’t take me by the hand, entice me or grab me by the throat. As the saxophone break rises for the umpteenth time and dances off into the music I’m left watching, uninvolved. I can’t even see any direction of travel in the album. Perhaps it is, in the end, technicality and intellect over what appears at first to be emotion, maybe it is progressive with a big clever capital P. I have listened, re-listened, listened again and instead of it opening up to me it gets harder each time.
I know; I’m being ridiculous on the face of it. I get handed this talent and skill and attention to detail but I’m hunting around for something I can’t find. To me this is a beautiful chaos butterfly, but it is pinned under glass, remote. Sorry, but I’m sure others will fall heavily for it. Just not my dream I guess.