Aenaon – Extance (Code 666)Wednesday, 5th March 2014
With black metal becoming more and more progressive and “out there,” the question that someone is bound to ask at some point is, “At what point do we stop expanding?” We have become accustomed to avant-garde instruments such as organs, strings, and even saxophones, but Aenaon manages to up the ante once more. Can a black metal fan acknowledge the use of a harmonica amidst the chaotic fury? Check out “Land of No Water” and you’ll be surprised how well it blends.
The harmonica is only one piece of the complex puzzle Aenaon puts together on their sophomore effort Extance. Making a huge leap from its predecessor, Cendres Et Sang, Extance is truly one of a kind. Circling between progressive and raw black metal (but with a nicer production), with jazz-fusion in tow, it never feels like a patchwork effort. With the diversity in songwriting, the vocals may be ignored but are worthy of note. The blackened rasps and roars get the job done, but the soaring clean vocals (a la ICS Vortex) bring songs like “Palindrome” and “A Treatise on the Madness of God” to new levels.
Including all of the instruments mentioned in the opening paragraph, Aenaon aren’t afraid to walk their own path, providing a number of standout moments. From the flat-out fury of “Der Mude Tod” to the jazzy saxophone of “Deathtrip Chronicle,” “Grau Diva” manages to standout by being one of the few moments of straight-forward material by the band. “Funeral Blues” uses strong female vocals throughout, giving it an edge that you won’t find in the other tracks. “Palindrome” ends the album, frequently going from acoustic to raging black metal, keeping listeners engrossed for its 12-minute runtime.
Extance is avant-garde black metal that grand in scope, yet intimate in feel. Though some might find it a bit off-putting and peculiar, fans of the off-kilter antics of Arcturus or even the more progressive material of Enslaved, Borknagar, or Opeth have found their new favorite band.