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Sulphur Aeon - Gateway to the Antisphere


by Matt Hensch

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Here is proof that the importance of artwork is alive and well. Do yourself a favor: look at the monolithic, Lovecraftian-inspired cover of "Gateway to the Antisphere" and absorb its world-devouring illustriousness. She's quite the dreamboat, ain't she? This imagery helps convey, of course, Sulphur Aeon's lyrical exploits of Lovecraftian themes (if song titles like "Devotion to the Cosmic Chaos" didn't give it away). It was the subject matter behind both artwork and the lyrics that drew me to Sulphur Aeon's domain, a musical territory springing from the foundations of bands like Behemoth and Morbid Angel with an esoteric twist in its atmosphere. I was more than surprised by the torrents of dexterity appearing in an otherwise forthright style of death metal; there are times when "Gateway to the Antisphere" is on the cusp of reaching some mysterious, horrifying form of faultlessness.

Behemoth-styled death metal is mostly tepid if I'm going to be honest. Sulphur Aeon, however, certainly has no trouble finding room to liven up the modern death metal approach with little nuances upon which the weight of the record is stabilized like little centipede legs carrying an abominable insect. There are plenty of blast beats and death metal riffs, sure, but the guitar sequences are creative enough to include creepy notations and convoluting structures to break up the monotony and pacing of this style. The riffs are fantastic-massive, tremolo-picked bombardments transmitting technicality and superb atmosphere, neither of which is left raw or overdone. In the end, over fifty minutes of sprawling death metal emerge, giving life to a cosmic assault that is as prosperous as it is iconoclastic.

The aforementioned soupçons serve as the golden ticket giving Sulphur Aeon a weekend pass to Kadath, making each cut seem its own particular shade. An assortment of riffing patterns and death metal structures organized to naturally transmit the band's motifs create a variety within Sulphur Aeon's template that seldom runs on fumes. Strong lead guitar melodies help "Into the Courts of Azathoth" and "Seventy Steps" stand out, while the title track and "Abysshex" rely on a more go-for-the-throat blueprint of blazing riffs and relentless carnage, but done under Sulphur Aeon's atmospheric and esoteric tendencies. Sulphur Aeon comes away sounding like its own entity; there is enough substance here to make the group stand on its own. The nuances are everywhere, and lift "Gateway to the Antisphere" to towering heights.

I like the vocals, though they aren't astonishing in execution-deep, low growls emerge from the mouth of this vast chasm with force. Nothing deserves a human sacrifice more than the creepy mid-paced riffs of "Calls from Below" coiling around the stomping percussion, ascending to the height of the album's musical vision and atmospheric capabilities; easily the best one here. The only bust is "Titans," which lingers around without much direction, but is otherwise the sole anomaly. The record is appealing in how it handles the structures of Behemoth-styled death metal while nourishing its knack for a lead guitar devoted to an array of compelling melodies and its magnificent atmosphere. "Gateway to the Antisphere," in summation, is as enveloping as its artwork suggests.

Sulphur Aeon - Gateway to the Antisphere
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