Band: Sulphur Aeon
Album: The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos
Label: Van Records
Genre: Blackened Death Metal
Release Date: December 21st, 2018
Full disclosure up front, I have been a huge fan of Sulphur Aeon since I discovered Gateway to the Antisphere shortly after its release in 2015; going back to listen to their debut album Swallowed by the Ocean’s Tide as soon as I possibly could. I’ve been waiting for new material to surface ever since, so the news of a new album in the works was warmly received. This band has been evolving since their debut, moving from a heavily black metal influence in their music to more of a solidly death metal realm, that progression was an interesting turn, and this album seems to further that vision.
Sulphur Aeon is Torsten Horstmann on guitars and bass, Martin Hellion on vocals, Daniel Dickmann on drums; they have also added Sascha Schiemann on bass, and Andreas Koort on guitar, though he has been playing with them live since 2013. Their latest offering, courtesy of Van Records, is titled The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos, and in keeping with the previous releases, has some incredible cover art. Eight hymns of cult worship to the creatures of Lovecraft lore, making fifty-one minutes of slicing riffs and steam-rolling drums; this album is a monster.
Martin’s voice is an almost entirely intelligible raspy growl often employed in blackened death metal. I’ve always held Martin’s ability a bit above others because of his ability to remain suitably “unclean” in vocal style while still being largely understandable without aid of a lyric sheet. As on the other records, his vocals are incredible, but on this release he seems to be evolving along with the rest of the band; there are moments where he experiments with his growl more than he has in the past. Monk-like chanting makes a few appearances throughout the album as well, fitting in effortlessly into their place among the songs.
The low end is handled by Sascha Schiemann and Daniel Dickmann who manage to keep this juggernaut on its feet while charging at full speed. Sascha, in charge of the bass, does an excellent job of making the whole thing flow, creating an undercurrent riding along each track. Bass is often drowned a bit in guitar driven bands, and this is not much different, but if you pay attention, you’ll hear how integral it truly is. Daniel is the mad man on the drums, and he is absolutely relentless throughout the album, rarely slowing down at all. The drums cultivate a rich soundscape as he pummels his way across the eight songs; filled to the brim with double-bass and anything on or near the kit he could hit.
Torsten Horstmann and Andreas Koort write and perform nasty riffs and beautiful melodies on The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos as the band’s guitarists. The riffs come fast and furious, while the melodies are slower and often haunting; the guitars still, and I hope they always will, carry that unmistakably Sulphur Aeon sound, but there is some experimentation sprinkled in from time to time. The twin guitar assault pulls off flawless harmonies as easily as they do the charging riffs and majestic solos. The Scythe continues the path of shedding the blackened influence, in the guitars most notably; not gone entirely, but set back as a less prominent feature. The initial shift to a more death metal focused sound on Gateway was very divisive among fans, and if you were disappointed, this album won’t likely win you back; if you were excited, it is the fantastic next step on their continual progression to extreme metal supremacy.
The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos is an immaculate release from a powerhouse band. I kept listening to this album, scouring every corner, trying to find something I could find fault with, or something I disliked. On every additional play-through it became increasingly clear that I wasn’t going to have anything negative to say. 2018 has had some incredible releases, and this is still far and away my album of the year; Sulphur Aeon spent the three years between releases honing their skills and crafting a perfect album. Much like its predecessors, I will be regularly listening to this for a few years, waiting for more.
- Cult of Starry Wisdom
- Yuggothian Spell
- The Summoning of Nyarlathotep
- Veneration of the Lunar Orb
- Sinister Sea Sabbath
- The Oneironaut – Haunting Visions Within the Starlit Chambers of Seven Gates
- Lungs into Gills
- Thou Shalt Not Speak His Name (The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos)
Total Playing Time: 51:38