Sulphur Aeon - The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos
Van Records
Death Metal
8 songs (51:26)
Release year: 2018
Van Records
Reviewed by Goat

Time to continue the Lovecraft theme, after last week's Obed Marsh review from Andy! Following up two very good albums with a third that's even better, German five-piece Sulphur Aeon are improving with age. Leaving behind the ocean as the tentacled beast on the cover art flies into the sky, the band retain that sense of epic grandeur to their music that so fits the theme and add new strings to their bow in terms of songwriting elements. Opener Cult of Starry Wisdom immediately surprises with a slow build and clean-sung vocals not unlike the late Warrel Dane's, before the expected death metal rumble begins. There's even something of a chorus, growled vocals with a backing howl, followed by more clean vocals as the song's protagonist calls out "Ia, ia! Nyarlathotep! I yearn to be thine servant - speak through me!" and the guitars take a more melodic turn as the atmosphere grips you.

Absolutely tremendous stuff, not least because the few criticisms that could be held against the band in the past - the over-reliance on Behemothic or Nilean tropes, the production - are here solved completely. Sulphur Aeon are still a death metal patchwork beast in terms of influence, but those influences are all but vanished into the band's sound and when you're faced with moments as good as the interplay of doom and death metal in Yuggothian Spell with corresponding sung and growled vocals, the stitching is near-impossible to see. This is helped even further with the variety on show, each song doing plenty to distinguish itself and each being memorable in some way. The way that The Summoning of Nyarlathotep pushes back a little on the epic elements and concentrates on the death metal, complete with Celtic Frostian "ugh!" and launch into a thrashy gallop, before indulging fully in grandiose soloing, for example, is awesome in a completely different way from the following savagery of Veneration of the Lunar Orb.

Yet both are as but lead-ins compared to the following Sinister Sea Sabbath. Starting with lapping waves beneath the echoing riffs, the track is slow and crushing, hints of Nile-esque grandiosity mixed with doomdeath to create a fishy invocation that's gripping throughout the entire nine-minute length. There's not a weak track on the album, and whether you pick Sinister Sea Sabbath will depend on what extent you love epic doom; the following tracks are just as terrific. Be it the aggressive melodic death of The Oneironaut - Haunting Visions Within the Starlit Chambers of Seven Gates with its infectious roared refrain of "enter the gate!" or the woozily nightmarish melodies of Lungs into Gills with plenty of blackened speed and more chanted growls of "ia, ia!", each tells its own tale of the mythos with superbly-written lyrics to boot.

It's honestly a shame that the band (or label) chose to release this so close to the end of 2018, a few days before Christmas when most metalheads are busy with the holiday and year-end lists are long since written; if I'd have heard this sooner I'd definitely have included it on my list, and if pushed into 2019 it may well have made that list instead. Such is the nature of the game that you can't win them all, or even listen to every metal album that gets released these days, but The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos remains a very late highlight of 2018 that shouldn't be missed.

Killing Songs :
All, especially Yuggothian Spell, Sinister Sea Sabbath, Lungs into Gills
Goat quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Sulphur Aeon that we have reviewed:
Sulphur Aeon - Seven Crowns and Seven Seals reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Sulphur Aeon - Gateway to the Antisphere reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Sulphur Aeon - Swallowed by the Ocean's Tide reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 100
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