Ascending the Throne
There are numerous labels that attempt to capture the sound and semblance of Germany's Downfall of Gaia, yet no single expression is anywhere near to being adequate. Combining elements of hardcore, post-rock, post-metal, black metal and atmospheric sludge, pigeonholing such a band is largely futile. All of the aforementioned are well-proven to be effective as lone wolves, but when they are combined and working together in a pack, the results are utterly devastating.
Their back catalogue makes for impressive listening, culminating in 2012's fantastically foreboding Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes, but Aeon Unveils The Thrones Of Decay genuinely feels like a turning point; instead of a small step it's a giant leap, and the outcome is an album that is monstrous in its delivery, unrelenting in its savagery, and beautiful in its bleak austerity.
Having evolved their sound in a similar manner to that of lapine legends Fall of Efrafa, their more hardcore and crust beginnings have more recently embraced new ideas and experimentations to become an entity not easily classifiable, save for their consistently desolate and unrelenting extremity.
The habitual cacophony of all hell breaking loose is nothing new for Downfall of Gaia, yet this album, in every possible sense, raises their bar. The incredibly befitting production certainly helps to accentuate this sensation, but the real magic lies within the unforgiving wall of sonic despondency created by a band who sound wholly supreme in their delivery. It becomes immediately apparent during grand opener Darkness Inflames These Sapphire Eyes that the band's black metal influences are a lot more conspicuous this time round, yet their trademark calamitous sound is still at the forefront of their identity. The vocals particularly stand out in all their reverberated black metal fury, something hinted at in the past yet masterfully domineering in 2014.
The quieter moments are subtle and introspective, the central concept of the relentlessness of time and the inevitability of facing darkness in our lives adding that extra layer to the already sombre tone. The post-rock elements are used to full effect, with the twelve minute Whispers Of Aeon suddenly cutting off before gradually building up the menacing air to an explosive crescendo.
The album is mesmerising in its solidarity, a genuine feat for a band whose songs average around ten minutes in length. The hardcore chugs within Carved Into Shadows sound all the more impressive when shrouded in dense apocalyptic oppression, and Excavated closes the album amidst brilliantly esoteric restraint and some excellent drumming from new guy Michael Kadnar.
Aeon Unveils The Thrones Of Decay is a formidable album; sixty minutes of unadulterated crushing darkness that paints the world in obsidian black, ushering in an entirely new stage of growth for a band who continue to fly the flag for modern hardcore.