Friday, November 4, 2016

Aenaon - Hypnosophy (2016)

This record doesn't come out until Thanksgiving (November 25th) and that feels fitting as it is certainly something to be thankful for. Really thankful for. As in, we're about to replace the lighthouse wallpaper and by the time you read this, we'll already have a new background. So is this a ten, then? Is that what you're saying? You're damn right it is. But first let me explain a little bit about why that is. As far as Aenaon is concerned, The Grim Lord is no stranger to them as I believe we gave their last record Extance another unbelievably high score. So has lightning struck twice? Well, you already know it has and I'm just as amazed as you are. This Grecian combination of Arcturus and Sigh is just un-fucking-real, folks. There's nothing at all quite like it, and it only becomes grander as you continue through the record.

The soundscapes that these gentlemen create are nothing short of fantastic, which give us a record that not only traverses black metal, but several types of music in general. We will definitely hear massive amounts of horns, saxophones and powerful keyboard sections which remind me of all things, the mighty Sigh. The clean vocals and synth pieces also help to remind me of Arcturus, covering both their earlier days and their more bombastic periods. We could also mention Emperor/Ihsahn, Enslaved, Ved Buens Ende, Dodheimsgard and several others throughout the history of the genre – it's all here, folks. Hypnosophy isn't just a great album, it reminds me why it is that I love music in the first place.

That being said, let's talk about what the album does aside from pomp – it actually offers black metal. Huge, hefty mounds of it. Blasts still roar from the kit, harsh vocals still emanate from the mouth of the frontman and even if cleans are being used, we still manage to get that loathsome scowl that brings us face-forward into extreme music to begin with. Now there are some female vocals on this record in certain areas, but I don't feel that these gentlemen are shouldering their way into becoming a female fronted act with these pieces. They are just there simply because the guys felt that a female vocalist belonged on areas of the album. In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with that. We should embrace these sorts of decisions and allow artists to make the kind of music that they wish to make. Even though these fine gentlemen are signed to a label like Code 666, I really can't imagine those guys pushing the band in one diection or the other. Obviously these men are tremendously talented in their own right and there's no real reason to tell them what to do, or how to make an album. They've already got that pretty much downpact.

Again, Hypnosophy is still black metal (I have to stress that) and it is still rife with familiar tremolos, but there is just so much more here to explore. The solos alone are outrageous and that includes far more than what is done on the guitar. I can sense that some people might feel there is too much going on in this record for them and that's understandable. Some people just aren't open-minded enough for such brilliance, where music become more than music – it becomes art. I'm even reminded of extremely experimental acts like Estradasphere on this one, which just makes it all the more exciting. In all of the boring black metal acts I hear these days that are just playing the same thing over and over, it's good to hear such a refreshing hurricane of sound and style like this.
The record itself is only about ten minutes less than their last (which still rounds out to an hour) but so much is done within that time period that the hour often passes by without you realizing it. It's just such a good record with a memorable atmosphere that you'll get wrapped up in it. It'll take you away to a realm by which you'll enjoy any task that you're doing while listening to it. I'd recommend soaking it in alone, but if you'd like to play it while doing housework or while playing a game, possibly even while reading or writing – that would work as well. These guys just set up such a wonderful sort of aura with their music that really seems to put an already fantastic metal scene further on the map.

I recently discovered a copy of Metal Hammer Greece's A Tribute To Iron Maiden's Somewhere In Time buried out in the backyard and realized that there were just so many mind-boggling covers of what was already a classic album to begin with on it. Every single band listed was a Grecian act, which blew me away even further. What in the hell is going on in the Greek metal and rock scene? There are some real heavyweights over there and I'm not even going to mince words. We already know that acts like SepticFlesh and Rotting Christ are fantastic, but just from what I heard on that little sampler it soon became apparent to me that we've heard nothing yet.

So another new year, another good Aenaeon record. You know, I'd personally have to chalk Hypnosophy up as being one of the best moments of my year, even though it's been a decidedly shitty one all-around. It feels like this record is treasure chest full of gold and jewels, but is placed high on the top of a steaming mountain of manure. We all know that 2016 wasn't exactly a great time to be on Earth, but this record certainly seems to soften the blow. After you're done with Thanksgiving dinner, go down to the nearest record shop and pick up this one. Or go online and order it from your favorite retailer.

The disc is only seven euros and while The Grim Lord isn't really happy about having to buy a twenty-four euro special vinyl version for a bonus disc with six more tracks (Holy shit, there's six more songs here! What else did they do? That's like a full album) on accompanying CD (yeah, you read that right) there is actually more than enough material here to satiate you without having to pick up that version. (Kind of upset that the CD version doesn't have the bonus tracks either – why not? They might be great!)

Regardless of another awful maketing scheme, this is still a wonderful record and I'm serious – it's good enough that you actually don't need all that bonus stuff to check it out. Even so, the special edition vinyl version limited to ninety-six copies actually is pretty cheap (it's $26 USD – the price that the metal shop around here used to charge for one disc before it was shutdown) compared to what other bands charge for similar, and arguably the music here is far better than bands with special edition boxes that you've already purchased this year, so go for it if you have the money.  Make this purchase your last big one of the year.

Aenaon's Hypnosophy is definitely worth it for fans of experimental and avant-garde black metal everywhere, and I do mean everywhere. The Grim Tower highly recommends Aenaon's Hypnosophy and it's my favorite album of the year. I'd recommend it to anyone.

(7 Tracks, 55:00)


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