The Isle Of Man. Not exactly a destination renowned for metal – never mind technically audacious, progressively-minded heavy metal – but that’s the sphere of madness in which AEONS inhabit.
A Tragic End is these manxmen’s debut full length album and “Vampire” is its shit-kicker of an opener; a bullish statement of intent which takes you down the Decapitated path of tech heavy death metal, spliced with a catchy as fuck chorus which adds a satisfying dose of melody.
Attention suitably grabbed.
“Divinity Shroud” then ushers in A Tragic End‘s first epic and this nearly 9 minute track is home to a myriad of styles, devices and genres. This fucker has everything, from an emotional holocaust of ultra heavy moments where the aggression is amped up to fever pitch to tempered moments of breathtaking beauty, where almost acoustic sections are layered with clean vocals and fluid leads. “Blue Shift”, at first, is positively peaceful in comparison, a carefully constructed sojourn into Opeth introspection before Aeons ratchet up the tension – and the aggression – as their technically adept metal tinkers with djent and progressive death metal.
Speaking of Opeth, “A Tragic End’ is the track you’ve prayed Mikael Akerfedlt would write ever since Heritage came out and disappointed the living shit out of you. To be fair, in construct this sounds ridiculously Blackwater Park-esque in places (it’s basically a mix of “The Drapery Falls” and “The Leper Affinity” before Meshuggah enter the fray in the final minutes) but that doesn’t detract from the sheer prog metal majesty at work as this 11min+ behemoth sweeps you aside amidst its chaotic sprawl of light and shade, tranquility and hostility.
In contrast, at 5 and a half minutes “Sinner’s Lament” is a relatively succinct and direct proposition as Aeons usher in a post-metal meets latter-day Mastodon mix of brooding menace and prog metal sensibility. “Strange Aeons” is then another Blackwater Park sounding B-side but it’s satisfyingly heavy and more than capable of holding its own amongst revered company before the Cynic sounding “Red Shift”- circa Kindly Bent To Free Us – showcases another, more considered, facet to Aeons sound.
Any great album – and this is a great album – lives and dies by its closing salvo and Aeons do not disappoint with the appropriately titled “Vengeance”. Another epic, this is ostensibly a brute force monster of riffs, groove and belligerence which is again tempered by moments of composure and self-reflection. A stunning end to an accomplished album.
You don’t have to be a genius to identify Aeons influences with Opeth looming the largest but there appears to be a Cynic, Atheist, Porcupine Tree and Katatonia vibe toiling way behind the scenes. Of course, sharing an experimental kinship with these genre-defining bands is one thing but Aeons have clearly set their own course which may nod to these legends, but avoids plagiarism like the plague. We’ll try and make ourselves clearer. Aeons don’t sound like Cynic, Atheist, Porcupine Tree and Katatonia (as clearly stated, Opeth are easily Aeons closest bedfellows) but they sure do harness their spirit!
Performances are impressive throughout but it’s talismanic father-figure and frontman ‘Skippy’ who shines the brightest. Master of the ever rising, ever more aggressive, Corey Taylor-esque roar – which builds and builds in energy and anger with each fevered delivery – its his clean vocals, which are expansive and expressive, which may surprise the most; a fine performance from a man whose pipes clearly relay a lifetime of living and loving metal in all its guises.
Aeons are a band that ably amalgamate the acoustic with the electric, clean tones with discordance and raging blastbeats with jazzy flourishes into imaginative, varied and lengthy musical suites which seamlessly interlock without once becoming repetitive.
Vividly expressed and flawlessly played, A Tragic End is a welcome surprise and if you thought music this accomplished, this capable and this downright irresistible couldn’t possibly come from the Isle of Man then you’re in for a shock / treat / awakening (delete where applicable). 9/10
A Tragic End is available now. Nip on over to bandcamp and buy a copy!