There is something of a pleasing contradiction at work in most Ambient offshoots of Metal. Barring perhaps a fleeting interest that some would have with BURZUM’S music between “Filosofem” and “Belus”, our beloved art form is not commonly thought of as music to drift off into a deep sleep while hearing. Some Gothic offshoots of the Death/Doom style might inspire a longing for solitude in a time of grief, but even the grave tempos and soft interludes between the beauty and the beast vocal interchanges don’t quite reach the level of breaking down the ivory gate of dreams. But lately a handful of bands drawn from this area have almost broken away from the Metal paradigm completely in their efforts in maximizing the depression factor.
LORD AGHEROS is heavily situated in this part of the Gothic Metal paradigm, pushing the envelope of extremity primarily in how many non-Metal influences they can mix into its sometimes aggressive formula. Lone musician and founder of the project Evangelou Gerassimos literally seems to be spending just as much time studying world music as he is meditating in the Autumn painted landscapes depicted in his project‘s photography. Past efforts might have drawn comparisons to the likes of older Ambient Black Metal outfits such as SUMMONING and VINTERRIKET in the minds of some, but the principle sound heard on “Of Beauty And Sadness” is much lighter in character, almost to the point of sounding like a keyboard heavy, deathly slow version of ENIGMA with a tiny bit of early TRISTANIA.
Obviously there are some latent tendencies towards aggression to be found here amidst the dark foray of dreamscapes and somber trances. The vocal delivery on “The Wave” listens a lot like a restrained version of SUMMONING with a strong majority of the song devoted to serenade-like keyboard interludes, making time for two verse sections with guttural barks and sepulchral shrieks overtop a droning guitar line with a quasi-Industrial character. “Svart Hemlangtan” takes a similar route of free versed raves over a punishing slow and heavy drone, but spends about 65% of the songs entire duration sounding like an airy cross between a funeral song and a lullaby. In fact, apart from “The Quiet Inside The Storm”, which has a brief flirtation with a more up tempo and epic character that may cause an occasional break from the fog of sleep at work here, the entire album is a steady flow of atmospheric ballads with a hodgepodge of ambient influences.
While unconventional for an album with Metal as part of its professed genre, there is a fair amount of intrigue at work here that makes this album slightly better than the average meditation music compilation. Gerassimos shows a fair amount of competency at crafting catch melodic material worthy of heavy repetition such as the solemn yet light hearted piano and synthesizer work on “Back To Innocence” and fancy/improvisatory-like sounding Eastern thematic material heard on the intro track “Prayer For A Dream”. Whether or not one who dabbles in Gothic Metal will like this hinges on a tolerance for music speaking for things about three times as much as what little vocal work is on here does. It’s a mixed bag, despite its unifying theme of loneliness and despair, and is probably not for most fans of archaic, Ambient Black Metal bands, though those who go for free-spirited Industrial material such as heard out of SENMUTH might find a nice, darker alternative in this album.
(Online October 25, 2010)