The cover art of the debut album by Kolbotn’s Æsthetica features a simple image in black and white, depicting a forest at the edge of a clearing. The forest is dark and foreboding, contrasting heavily with the open safety of the clearing before it and, despite the threat of danger, it beckons you into its thick depths where you just know you’ll stumble upon cloaked figures, outlined in torchlight. Yes, it’s a simple image, but it paints a vivid picture and proves to be the perfect accompaniment for Sonorus Æon. Much like the forest in the image, the music found here is mysterious; it soothes, yet keeps you on-edge revealing itself to be strangely familiar, while staying out of the realms of clear memory.
At a glimpse, Æsthetica tout an artistic combination of doom metal and post-rock. Tracks such as “Todesfuge” and “Gates” are minimalistic and atmospheric, featuring a great use of dynamics, whereas “Haze” and “Worshipper” are noisy ensembles with pounding drums and fat guitar riffs. Taken as a whole, Sonorus Æon comes off as a very deliberate work. The first two tracks clock in around six minutes, while the third exceeds ten. This same pattern is repeated for the album’s second half, indicating that, at the very least, this is an album designed to be enjoyed in two halves, but can still be gorged on in one sitting.
Sonorus Æon positively drips with occult vibes – from the aforementioned dark forest depicted in the album’s artwork to the massively distorted Electric Wizard guitar tone on the noisier tracks – but the element that most welcomes the darkness is the vocals. Wailing like a charismatic cult leader on a bad trip, Tobias Huse seems to use melody as a rough guide rather than a strict outline. His is a voice that will be divisive, but it’s certainly unique and only adds to the overall atmosphere.
The gems of Sonorus Æon are the two longer tracks, which fully showcase Æsthetica’s songwriting abilities. Thanks to their wonderful construction, these songs fly by, despite pushing or exceeding ten minutes. “La Paz” slowly builds for five minutes before bursting into chaos, while “Ekstasis” is centered around a simple repeating riff that slowly increases in tempo until it becomes a wall of noise. Both are exemplary.
Sonorus Æon is a fresh take on doom, breathing originality into a genre that can easily become mundane. Throw this album on and forget yourself….as the mists of the forest slowly consume you. 8/10