RELEASED BY: Lifeforce Records
RELEASE DATE: January 21st, 2013 (Europe) – January 22nd, 2013 (North America)
GENRE: Melodic death metal
Tony Kaikkonen – vocals
Tapio Vartiainen – guitar
Wille Naukkarinen – guitar
Tommi Kiviniemi – bass
Pasi Pasanen – drums
2. Cold Waves
4. Enemy of the Souls
5. The Center
6. Havoc & Catharsis
8. Seeds of Destruction
9. Wolf Eyes
10. Black Sheep Process
Melodic death metal.
The sheer mention of that phrase is enough to make a good amount of metalheads turn tail and run the other way. Admittedly, while it most definitely stemmed from Sweden – the birthplace of the very “Swedish death metal” sound, the melodic death metal scene has seen its time of popularity and once used to be a blossoming and flourishing scene, brimming with talent from all over the world. While it is true that the “Gothenburg” sound is pretty much the basis of the genre which saw giants like In Flames and Dark Tranquillity spearheading the scene, the genre would go on, spreading across the world and bringing some great melodeath from unexpected places (such asEnforsaken, from the US).
It would be however Finland that would end up with the strongest melodeath scene after Sweden, with household names such as Children of Bodom, Norther, Insomnium, Omnium Gatherum or Kalmah all being strong exports from the Finns and beloved from fans all over the world. After the early 2000s, the melodic death metal sound seemed to get a bit out of breath and while the big names kept going, many changed their sound for a different approach, be it more progressive (Insomnium) or more modern (Children of Bodom). I’m not sure if that’s the result from people getting worn out on melodeath of if it was just the result of general stagnation from the scene not bringing anything new and seemingly not going anywhere.
In the end, I think that might be a big part of the problem. Enter Sons of Aeon. Again, what we have here a bit of a “supergroup” of sorts, featuring current and former members of Ghost Brigade, Swallow the Sun, Endstand andCode for Silence. I personally cannot say for the latter two, which are admittedly unknown to me, but I’m a rather big fan of both Swallow the Sun and Ghost Brigade, so my interest to hear Sons of Aeon’s self-titled debut album was rather high.
The brand of death metal that these Sons play is most definitely melodic, with some atmospheric and progressive influences. It’s also quite honestly, not bad at all. The only major issue I have with this album is the lack of anything new. It’s all been done before, both better and (thankfully), much worse. So really, if you’re a melodic death metal fan, you should have a good time with this. I don’t hear much Swallow the Sun influence here, as obviously, the sound is far removed from doom but I do hear some of Ghost Brigade’s atmospheric tendencies, which to me are quite welcome and allow me some breathing room, adding to the general dynamics and avoiding the trap of being your average one-dimensional, constantly speedy melodic death metal album. Besides that, I do hear a bunch of different bands in here, such as Dark Tranquillity on “Seeds of Destruction”, Insomnium on the epic “Weakness” and even (funnily enough) Amon Amarth on “Enemy of the Souls”. So it’s quite obvious that the band have influences and there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem is when your album starts feeling like it doesn’t really know where it’s headed, and that’s what I feel with Sons of Aeon’s debut. It’s the sound of an incredibly talented bunch of musicians doing what they do extremely well, but without a defined focus or identity.
Does that mean the album is terrible? Of course not! It’s actually quite good, to my ears. The intro and outro to the nearly 8-minute opener “Faceless” is dark and beautiful, “Burden” has an incredible atmosphere (Ghost Brigade comes to mind, again), “Enemy of the Souls” has a great Amon Amarth-esque style of riffing, “Havoc and Catharsis” has a stupidly catchy riff that drilled itself in my head, “Weakness” is epic and could come from Insomnium orKalmah and finally, “Black Sheep Process” is a beautiful drawn-out instrumental closing the album on a melodic note.
To the band, I would say that the album is very solid and I have absolutely no qualms about the musicianship involved in this album. The talent and potential is mighty high here. However, they definitely need focus and to find a sound that would make them unique. I want to hear these guys doing something different, something else than “Sons of Aeon plays Amon Amarth” or any other band. To be frank, I feel a bit frustrated that this album isn’t any better, because I love the bands some of these guys are/were involved with and I feel this is just too familiar to warrant a really high score.
On the other hand, I’m somewhat thankful this didn’t degenerate into another of these “modern” melodic death metal bands, because as Wille said himself: “With a few exceptions, I’m not personally interested in today’s extreme metal. I like my metal with nuances and soul. Math-based, vacuum-packed bursts of anger just don’t do the trick for me.” I very much concur and that perhaps is why that even though this isn’t very ground-breaking or mind-blowing, this “soul” might be what gives the album its je-ne-sais-quoi which forces to give it a better score than what I might normally give an album like this.
So even though my score may not be the highest, please take into consideration that the band is comprised of some incredible musicians and this being their debut, there’s a load of space for something much better in the future. Also, keep in mind that to me, 7/10 is above average. I don’t give 8s that easily and much less 9s (and you may actually never see a 10 from me).
Bottom line is, if you’re a melodic death metal and you enjoy the Finnish school of melodeath, please ignore the not-so-high rating and check these guys out, because they might be onto something pretty awesome in the future.
Written by Chris Auclair
Ratings Chris 7/10