Sulphur Aeon - The Scythe Of Cosmic Chaos - (10/10)
Published on November 21, 2018
Stop the presses, hold the bus, halt fucking everything and open your Necronomicon – Sulphur Aeon have a new album. I thought Gruesome’s Twisted Prayers or maybe Psychostick’s Do were my most anticipated albums of the year, but 2018 throws a massive curveball (or, in this case, tentacle) at my face and unleashes this masterpiece. As for ‘death metal album of the year’, I was convinced that either Skeletal Remains or Jungle Rot had me covered. But along comes Sulphur Aeon to wipe the smug smiles off everyone’s face with the epic new LP The Scythe Of Cosmic Chaos. Isn’t that the perfect title for an album by German death metal Lovecraft fanatics? After the equally awesome Swallowed By The Ocean’s Tide and Gateway To The Antisphere, this was the next logical step on their journey to the gates of deeper slumber…
Just as I was hoping, Sulphur Aeon have done away with unnecessary trivialities on the album cover. You know, things like the album title or the band name. They do this in order to properly display Ola Larsson’s jaw-dropping artwork which has become, among fans, almost as iconic as the band themselves. It’s worth keeping that apocalyptic imagery in your head when listening to The Scythe Of Cosmic Chaos. I promise it enhances the music tenfold. Sorry, did I say ‘music’? I meant ‘dread incantations of unbound horror’. For those unfamiliar, this German quintet create monstrous death metal with epic overtones celebrating the works of the great H.P. Lovecraft. These are colossal hymns of insanity worthy of the Great Old Ones Themselves.
No separate intro track this time, just the all-engulfing ambience of the first minute of “The Cult Of Starry Wisdom” to settle us before we are engulfed by the maelstrom of hideousness these guys are capable of. This album takes everything that made 2015’s Gateway…so brilliant and enhances it with new compositional devices; most notably, M’s vocal performance. He is, frankly, amazing on this album. His highs are more harrowing, his lows more substantial, and he even employs some cleans here and there which bring a new dimension to the music. In the previously-mentioned opening track, in the chorus of “Yuggothian Spell” and most effectively in the album’s closing moments – the clean vocals resemble some unholy ritual and bring a real sense of drama to proceedings. Hell, the entire record is dramatic! Death metal doesn’t get more grandiose than this.
The Lovecraftian theme contributes to this sense of enormity, regaling us with horrific tales of hideous intergalactic monstrosities, but it’s the production quality that really beefs up the gargantuan atmosphere. Cymbals echo off cavernous walls, leads wail with anguish, riffs rumble out of blackened pits, and M’s vocals drive the chaos like some demented priest. The overall timbre is utterly thunderous. The songwriting has also been notched up a gear since Gateway… making this their most weirdly accessible album yet. Refrains are memorable, riffs are creative, and each section flows from one to the other with effortless dreadful certainty. No death metal fan will be able to resist roaring along with the chorus of “Lungs Into Gills”: ‘IA! IA! ABYSSAL CHOIRS WILL SOUND!’.
Each track brings something special, like the truly theatrical climax to “Thou Shalt Not Speak His Name” or the terrifying fury of “The Oneironaut: Haunting Visions Within The Starlit Chambers Of Seven Gates” (gotta love that title!). But the jewel in the crown of this album is the ambitious 9-minute epic “Sinister Sea Sabbath”. Covering all aspects of the Germans’ sound, this beast ebbs with both doom-like menace and explosive blast-beats. A masterpiece. But then, so is this entire record. I feel satisfyingly exhausted after listening to The Scythe Of Cosmic Chaos. Sulphur Aeon are one of those special bands who seem to pioneer their own style. I can only see them going from strength to strength, but for now we just have to drown in the whirlpool of unmissable death metal they have blessed upon us. Cthulhu Fhtagn!!
“It is He who holds,
the sceptre of obliteration.
It is He who wields,
the scythe of cosmic chaos… “