Friday, January 4, 2013

Album Review - Swallowed by the Ocean's Tide by Sulphur Aeon: 9.75/10

Having recently bought a new H.P. Lovecraft anthology and being in the mood for some eldritch entertainment, I found my cephalopodian salvation in Sulphur Aeon. Based in Nordrhein-Westfalen, but with a sound that sounds more at home echoing from the cyclopian spires and non-euclidean geometry of storied R'lyeh, Suplhur Aeon aims to drive you mad with a sweeping, epic sound that will pull at the edges of your mind until you lie gibbering in an asylum. Led by three men simply referred to as M., T. and D., I couldn't have been more pleased by this album. Before getting my hands on the full release I listened to the titular track, "Swallowed by the Ocean's Tide", and I was immediately intrigued. "Can the rest of the album possibly be as unique and tonally varied as what I just listened to?" I'm happy to report that Swallowed by the Ocean's Tide delivers on that premise and more, and has exceeded even my lofty expectations.

Thematically, Swallowed by the Ocean's Tide draws from H.P. Lovecraft's perennial literary creations, most strongly Cthulhu and the lore surrounding the great beast. With tracks such as "From the Stars to the Sea", "Those Who Dwell in Stellar Void", and "Beneath.Below.Beyond.Above.", you know what you are getting yourself into. From the cover art, which features great Cthulhu emerging from his tomb in the temple city of R'lyeh, to the intro track titled "Cthulhu Rites", Swallowed by the Ocean's Tide veritably oozes with the existential malaise that Lovecraft himself conveyed in his works. With references to Hastur, the King in Yellow, Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat of the Woods, and of course Cthulhu, I was right at home.

Usually, I would break down each song, dissecting it and presenting the innards for the reader to make of what they will, but I find myself unable to do so for the tracks that Swallowed by the Ocean's Tide presents. Each is it's very own beast, complex and unique, and the album has to be heard as a whole to truly be appreciated. The true draw of this album is that, when heard as a single piece, it takes you on a journey. Without knowing a single word spoken on the album, a story was told that rivals many of my favorite novels in scope. To help illustrate this point, I give you the book-ends of the album, "Cthulhu Rites" and "Zombi".

"Cthulhu Rites" features very little in the way of actual content, instead using sound and chant to paint us a picture that sets the stage for the rest of the album. The sound of waves crashing against a darkened shore accompanies the chants of a group worshiping their gods in the tongue of the Great Old Ones. The rest of the album could easily be seen as the aftermath of this misguided reverence for beings too great in scope to direct anything but contempt at creatures as insignificant as we, and the beastly vocals, powerful drums, and relentless guitar work paint a vivid portrait of devastation.

At the tail end of the sonic assault that is Swallowed by the Ocean's Tide everything comes to an end with "Zombi". Accentuated with hauntingly ethereal vocals this track, which is devoid of the intensity found on the rest of the album, gives you time to think about what you have just experienced and gives the impression of a sweeping panorama of a world ruined by invaders from beyond our frame of existence.

I just cannot say enough good things about this album. For someone who can appreciate the subject matter this is a masterwork that should not be ignored. For everyone else, you will find a collection of melodically-infused death metal songs that will keep you riveted from beginning to end, all of which being different enough that boredom never has a chance to catch a foothold.

Rating - 9.75/10
Release Date - December 28th, 2012
Website - http://www.facebook.com/SulphurAeon

Track Listing

1. Cthulhu Rites
2. Incantation
3. Inexorable Spirits
4. The Devil's Gorge
5. Where Black Ships Sail
6. Swallowed By The Ocean's Tide
7. Monolithic
8. From The Stars To The Sea
9. Those Who Dwell In Stellar Void
10. Beneath.Below.Beyond.Above.
11. Zombi

Lineup

M. - Incantations
T. - Sirens
D. - Tentacles

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