A few days ago, we started a post by saying, “Sometimes when we listen to metal, we just want to get mentally pulverized.” If you never feel that way, well, please go on about your business and come back tomorrow when we’ll probably be writing about something else.
But today, we’re in that mental-pulverization mood. And in case you’re also in the mood to have your brains scrambled, have we found the right short-order cooks for you: Aeon and Exhale. Coincidentally, both bands are from Sweden. They each employ different techniques on the grill, but their new albums both get the job done in masterful fashion.
With a few of the inevitable line-up changes, Aeon (pictured above) has been playing for more than a decade, and Path of Fire (released on Metal Blade) is their third full-length album and the first since 2007. The album was mixed by Erik Rutan and mastered by the ubiquitous Alan Douches.
The name of the game is technical death metal, and it’s as sweet as it is punishing. With few exceptions, the songs depend on low-end, driving riffs and hammering double-kicks that put us in mind of an inexorably charging train, scattering sparks and belching smoke. The picking is fast and dynamic, yet there’s no flash-for-the-sake-of-flash going on here — each song is built around a defined rhythmic structure designed to burrow heavy grooves into your skull. (more after the jump, including songs to stream . . .)
To persist with that runaway-train metaphor, the sparks fly when Zeb Nilsson injects swirling guitar leads into the rapidly chugging rhythms. They’re always brief, but they spin like a funnel cloud.
Tommy Dahlström’s growling vocals are full, deep, and nasty. They’re the kind of uncommon gutturals that are fully intelligible — and what he’s singing about is an incessant, vicious, and highly personal diatribe against Christianity. So, you know, if you’re sensitive about that kind of thing, this probably isn’t the album for you.
Cannibal Corpse bassist Alex Webster has been quoted as saying: “Aeon’s musicianship is among the best in death metal, but their songwriting is what truly sets them apart. It’s rare to find a death metal band that is simultaneously crushingly brutal and infectiously catchy. Aeon is one of those rare bands!” That’s a pretty damned good summary of Path of Fire. Here’s a brain-scrambling track from the album for you to test-drive:
This five-piece band of badasses is also from Sweden, and they’ve just released their second album (Blind) on Dark Balance.
They’ve cross-bred pure, bat-out-of-hell grindcore with death metal to produce a barely controlled brute animal straining to run right over you. The rapid-fire vocals trade off between vein-bursting shrieking and gut-rumbling gutturals, and the instrumentation runs like a flat-out Formula One machine with brake failure.
The music is chaotic, combustible, cacophonous, and crushing. It’s down-right blistering in its power. And yet, somehow, Exhale preserves a rhythmic groove and variability in the song construction that prevents the album from turning into a single indistinguishable mass of freaked-out noise. In a nutshell, we are really diggin’ this fascinating mix of grind and death.
Make no mistake, you don’t want to listen to this unless you’re in a serious brain-scrambling mood. But if you are, look no further: Blind will do the trick quite nicely, and bring you back for seconds.
Here’s a track from that album. The whole scampering collection of mayhem is available from iTunes and Amazon mp3 downloads.