Album: Enthrall to the Void of Bliss
Label: 20 Buck Spin
The first semblance of organized structure on Aevangelist’s latest offering, “Enthrall to the Void of Bliss”, comes nearly 8 minutes into the opening track. Up until then, “Arcanae Manifestia” plods along, a sprawling mass of creaking industrial sounds, buried cymbals, and swirling chaos. It’s impressive just how many disparate sounds Aevangelist are able to cram into their sonic space. For every solid death metal chug, there are industrial scrapes, vocal wrenches, angular riffs, and even a church bell or two. As you might imagine, there’s a lot going on here. Consequently, “Enthrall to the Void of Bliss” comes across as a messy, chaotic affair, but it’s clear that chaos is exactly what they were going for. This works out best on “Gatekeeper’s Scroll” where a creepy bell melody lurks behind a driving death metal charge that eventually gives way to a nice guitar melody, but elsewhere (the opening track in particular) the sound overwhelms without providing any sort of feeling or atmosphere – it’s just noise, and not in the good sense. I’m reminded of the old anecdote where a room full of chimpanzees sitting at typewriters will eventually produce a Shakespearean play. “Enthrall to the Void of Bliss” feels a lot like that in that there’s a very palpable sense of entropy that pervades every single track. The band feels like it’s tearing itself apart at the seams and hoping that order will arise from the chaos. When it does, it’s terrific, but more often than not the excess sounds are just that – excess. Aevangelist could benefit a great deal from just a little bit of focus, because most of the time they sound overwhelmed by the sum of their parts.
As I listened to this album I kept drawing parallels to another noise-heavy release I heard this year, Akhlys’ excellent black metal/ritual ambient combo “The Dreaming I”. Comparing the two shows just how Aevangelist could utilize a little structure to tighten their sound without sacrificing the overwhelming ambience or moody atmosphere. Where Naas Alcameth framed his machinations in synths and droning gloom, Ascaris and Matron Thorn simply let them run wild, content to let the bones fall where they may. Occasionally, a bit of order does come through, as in the aforementioned “Gatekeeper’s Scroll” and again on “Levitating Stones”, the most straightforward track on the album, where a mid-paced death metal rumble dominates most of the soundscape. Ascaris’ vocals, however, drag it down a notch or two, as he deploys a sort of high pitched yowl in addition to his normal growls. It seems Aevangelist were going for creepy, but instead they ended up with annoying. That same annoyance manifests itself again at the beginning of “Emanations”, where Ascaris’ tortured moans come across more like someone with a stomachache than a vocalization of evil intent. The most frustrating part is that it’s clear that Aevangelist are able to compose excellent death metal without sacrificing their experimental bent, but “Enthrall to the Void of Bliss” feels incomplete, a cacophony of ideas clamoring for attention. None of them really come to prominence, however, and we’re left with something that doesn’t resemble Macbeth so much as it does a room full of chimpanzees.