Sulphur Aeon - Gateway to the Antisphere - (9/10)
Published on April 2, 2015
It’s been two years since the release of Swallowed by the Ocean’s Tide, and although civilization is still rebuilding from the devastation of Sulphur Aeon’s full-length debut, the German death metal trio have reemerged from the abyss to exact further Lovecraftian vengeance upon the abhorred land-dwelling mortals. While their first onslaught caught the masses off-guard and susceptible, this second assault, entitled Gateway to the Antisphere, has been foretold by many a long-haired sage. But even so, these predictions have done precious little to sway the inexorable crush that has arrived, bubbling up from the green ocean depths to rid the earth of its wandering and dithering inhabitants.
Like its predecessor, Gateway to the Antisphere presents an atmosphere of distinct and grueling majesty. Similar to what Sabaton do for power metal, Sulphur Aeon inject a surging and palpable sense of history and kingdom into their death metal, one laced with melodic undercurrents, pounding and pummeling drums, and booming, echoing vocal work that tolls up mercilessly from a vast and watery void. The impression wrought from such music is equally bombastic and impressive, capable of conjuring vast and warring visuals of marches to the sea, of the crown of Cthulhu breaking the surface like a submarine on its path to shore. Truly, little has changed in the way of scope, mythos, and the band’s preference for rousing, hammering death metal, so prepare to have your expectations met and, in some instances, smothered under so many crashing waves.
The augmented production, while still suitably stained and dense, is an aspect that has definitely aided in boosting Sulphur Aeon’s overall impact; the riffs hit with more anger, the rhythm section is more oppressive, and the band’s transitions seem all that much more dramatic and violent. It’s a poignant exhibition, a cacophonous blend of Behemoth’s might, Hour of Penance’s regal brutality, the arcane evil of The Ruins of Beverast, and the infectious and melodic attack of Hypocrisy. The German trio’s blend of refined brutality and harsh, rich melody never tips too far in either direction, and while heavier sections, like the one found around 1:32 of “Into the Courts of Azathoth,” are absolutely addictive highlights, Sulphur Aeon’s evocative and sweeping song structures would go to waste if they were crammed with too many of these volcanic moments.
The sound and the fury is on full display with Gateway to the Antisphere, and Sulphur Aeon, who have once again recruited Ola Larsson to design the brilliant cover art, continue to pay tribute to the legend of Lovecraft with yet another opus of immense and memorable creativity that even Erich Zann would find the time to enjoy.