Release DetailsLABEL FDA Rekotz
RELEASED ON 12/28/2012
Sulphur Aeon’s individual performances elevate the album far above many likeminded acts.
Swallowed By The Ocean's Tide
In the interest of full disclosure, it must be admitted that I can be quite susceptible to the seductions of great cover art. In the case of Germany’s Sulphur Aeon, the glorious art that adorns debut full length Swallowed by the Ocean’s Tide was instrumental in getting me to give the album a spin. The masterfully-rendered image of our lord Cthulu emerging from some deep ocean fortress certainly causes more curiosity than say, the childish shit on the sleeve of Tankard’s latest. Sometimes such window dressing is just polishing a turd, but in this case, the curiosity is well rewarded.
Sulphur Aeon delivers a slight death metal hybrid that most immediately sounds like a faster, kinda murky, ocean-and-Lovecraft-obsessed version of Hypocrisy, but additional spins reveal many more well employed elements. Of note is a touch of Polish death that rears its ugly face from time to time (think the Azarath brand), and the slightest hint of Dissectionesque melodies in the bright, violent tremolo riffage. The closest direct kinship might be with France’s underrated Yyrkoon, but the jams on Swallowed by the Ocean’s Tide undoubtedly have their own unhinged, burly vibe.
After an intro track that actually works, “Incantation” kicks off an album that never even once feels like it is dragging, a rather amazing feat considering the 45 minute run time and near single-mindedness of the material. A deep, textured production adds to this success, but Sulphur Aeon’s knack for songwriting efficiency and opportunism is the real star here, using crucial hooks, seamless transitions, and an expert sense of lead placement to make these tunes as catchy as they are bludgeoning. The leads in particular may be a lone line sailing over a main theme (the title track), or unleashed as a solo that comes at just the right time (shifty riffage leads to reverby solo in “Inexorable Spirits”), but regardless of the technique, their delivery is always timely.
Material of this sort could easily fall prey to pitfalls of the derivative, but Sulphur Aeon’s individual performances elevate the album far above many likeminded acts. Guitarist/bassist T. handles brutality and melody with ease, drummer D. is the catalyst behind the album’s rhythmic variation, and vocalist M. has the kind of ultra voluminous growl that can only come from understanding exactly how far one’s lungs can be stretched. His often ocean-trench-level bellow adds as much to the textural feel as the instrumentation and production, but when he chooses to emerge for some throat shredding – such as with the Azarathish trachea torture in “From the Stars to the Sea” – things get flat out maniacal.
Swallowed by the Ocean’s Tide is death metal for fans that like a touch of melody but are tired of melodeath, brutality without comedic barkpuke antics, and murk without ever reaching unlistenable “murkcore” levels. The latter might be the most telling, as this creates texture and atmosphere without damning the riffs to muffled and inaudible slurries. It’s another sign that Sulphur Aeon plain and simple just get it, and it would be rather difficult to fathom this not appealing to a very wide spectrum of death metal fans.