Aenaon - Cendres Et Sang
Aural Music/Code666
Avant-garde Black/Death
10 songs (52:54)
Release year: 2011
Aural Music/Code666
Reviewed by Charles
Calling your album’s first track ‘Kafkaesque’ seems like a transparent bid for cleverness-status to me, but then this is a code666 release, home of the weird and (sometimes) wonderful likes of Axis of Perdition, Ephel Duath, and current up-and-comers Oddball Jazz-Metal Fusion Band. Sure enough, the opener in question is a short freeform saxophone solo which, without wanting to start on a downer, there’s something slightly off about. Jazz instruments aren’t that much of an oddity in the more experimental realms of the metal world now, partly because of the ground-breaking work of certain other bands on the label’s roster, and as a result the somewhat lost-sounding toots here don’t quite intrigue as they might have done in a pre-Ihsahn/Shining world.

This segues in the tangled thicket of ideas that is Suncord, the first proper track here, and a perplexing amalgamation all sorts of influences. The main body of the sound is a mid-tempo blackened death stride, like a slightly more prosaic version of compatriots Rotting Christ, but in the sudden jolts into quieter, erratic jangling it feels like Ephel Duath’s The Painter’s Palette; occasional shouted vocals are reminiscent of Virus; and the twisting approach to songwriting suggests Ihsahn. It’s a bit of a jumble, in which it’s hard to detect a coherent train of thought. It’s one of those ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ kind of songs.

So it’s probably to the album’s benefit that Aenaon settle into a more secure niche with Psychonautic Od… and largely remain there for the rest of Cendres et Sang. It opens with a big, stomping groove suggesting a debt to more recent Satyricon and generally oscillates between that and periodic flashes of a more snarling blast approach. That’s a combination that has much in common with labelmates (and my all-time favourite band) Ecnephias, and whilst Aenaon eschews all the synth theatrics there’s further parallels in both acts’ orientation towards a more accessible sense of gothic melody. The walking-pace metal of Carnivora’s Lair or Necroscope have a definite Paradise Lost feel to them. Flourishes of oddness, such as the Hammond organ on Psychonautic Od… or the strange spacey sounds seemingly nicked from Angst Skvadron on Grand Narcotic Harvest are augmentations and ornaments rather than an ends in themselves.

The best track here though, is closer In Heaven, a supremely warped arrangement of the song the girl in the radiator sings in David Lynch’s Eraserhead. It’s one example of the band doing ‘weird’ extremely well. This chillingly serene original becomes a cathartic metallic climax, which makes what has gone before seem slightly mediocre in comparison. The overall impression, then, is of a slightly puzzling record, at times striving too self-consciously for avant-garde-ness and at other points feeling a bit too straightforward. It will be of interest to those of you that follow code666 releases avidly.

Killing Songs :
Psychonautic Od..., Necroscope, In Heaven
Charles quoted 72 / 100
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