Every once in a while, you may come across one of those albums that leaves such an impression on you and your senses that it reinforces your appreciation for the music and reminds you of many of the things that make it so exhilarating. That being said, Aegaeon (named so after one of the moons of Saturn) is an American deathcore act coming out of Indiana that's been actively shaping their style and career ever since the release of their Exponential Transcendence EP back in 2009. Since then, the philosophical core outfit has made more releases, including two full-lengths...and performed live shows all around. And now, they return to us with their latest full length.
Age serves as Aegaeon's sophomore full length album and incorporates several of the technical, melodic and progressive elements and traits that the band's established for its sound. Since the release of Dissension, Aegaeon has seemingly evolved and learned to better hone their craft, so to speak, and all of that is showcased in their new album. Thought of as a thematic composition broken down into a progressive-esque structure consisting of three acts (akin to a play of sorts), Age's eleven tracks represent the relentless and awe-inspiring journey through that little thing called life.
A musical evolution of sorts, the intruiging themes and metaphorical values held in these sprawling and attentive 43 minutes of content are accompanied by a deathcore execution, melodic backdrops, atmospheric tension, avant-garde transitions and more. The independently released album also features guest vocals and instrumental work from two additional musicians - Grace Korkunis (who provides vocals on 'Age') & Miah Lajeunesse (who provides vocals and guitar work) - the later of whom also helped produce and master the release; and artwork courtesy of Alex Mitchell.
Due in part to the prog-like structure of the deathcore opus that is Age, this analysis will be divided into three sections, one for each individual act.
Within the album's opening, listeners are greeted by the soothing, yet somewhat ominous orchestral sounds of 'Existence'. Suddenly, the tone abruptly shifts into an extreme metal ensemble comprised of the band's staple super low growl vocals, strikingly dissonant chords and high notes of guitars, and the hard-hitting drumming made up of blast beats and such. To note one thing, Age seems to do this kind of transition quite a bit. At one point you will have some melodic or atmospheric background noise for an extended period, which will be soon crushed by a metric ton of deathcore angst and destruction that seemingly rears its head out of nowhere.
At first listen, all of the instrumentals sounded pristine as all hell, with sheer production quality and mixing that gives the album an extra oomph. Every note is very audible...and everything that's audible here sounds very well thought out and entertaining, to say the least. Guitar lines in the first act mostly consist of lightning fast tremolos, slammy chromatics, and chuggy breakdowns in addition to techy high notes. For instance, the first two tracks consist of shredding and breakdowns that lead into solo-like high note picking, accompanied by fast snare drumming and even quicker chugging in many aspects. The melodics follow always, and each track builds up its own atmosphere. I was a bit iffy about how the snare sounds on Age, but I got used to it after a while and everything else seemed to make up for its awkwardness.
Overall, the first act really shines in the latter half, especially with 'Ruination', which is basically a lengthy prog-deathcore track all on its own consisting of echoey and doomy chugging, blast beat madness, some quirky bass lines here and there as well as a guitar solo later on; all of which are accompanied by the atmospheric background isntrumentals that seem to be a large staple to this release. Out of the four songs that make up the first act, 'Ruination' alone delivers heavily based on its progression and breakdowns, though both of the latter two tracks in Act 1 are a treat to listen to. The first two songs are solid too, just not as developed as their successors, in my opinion.
As we converge on the climax to Age, Act 2 suddenly takes shape and forms into a minute-long melodic intermission that soon leads into 'Void'.
'Void' is another really strong track on its own thanks mainly to its juxtaposition of atmospheric orchestral strings being performed in the background paired with its Aegaeon/core forefront (if you listen, you will know what I'm talking about). The song itself isn't terribly lengthy, but it gets the job done and kept me all ears for its mental distortion, chuggy open note assaults, and harsh vocals. I'm sure the lyrics on here are really ecstatic by the general sound of it...and the concepts presented alone made me want to look into the backstory.
Up next, 'Silence' takes you on an aggressive trip filled with chromatics and chuggy core destruction before going into another instrumental/interlude track. This song, titled 'Presence', drags on into 'Metamorphosis' (the composition that closes off the second act) and, to be honest, I felt as though it was becoming a bit much with the theatrics at this point. Sure it gets you hyped and serves as an epic break from the band's chaos; however, I didn't think it needed another track all to its own. Be that as it may, 'Metamorphosis' is yet another brutal track consisting of a lengthy atmospheric introduction that turns lethal when it comes down to the destructively in-your-face core gutars made up of fast paced chugging and some technical dynamics that reminded me of bands like Archspire and Within The Ruins among others.
All in all, while I enjoyed 'Metamorphosis' a whole lot, I thought 'Void' did an outstanding job at keeping the band's sound steady and containing the core-like substance as well as the conflicting instrumentals in a more compact length. For this reason, 'Void' became my favourite track for Act 2.
With the impending conclusion of Age now almost within reach, we have ourselves two more tracks left...
'Life' & 'Age' both comprise Act 3 of Age. 'Life' is overall a more brief track containing mostly build-up and just a bit of Aegaeon towards the very end. However, 'Age' makes itself out as a more sprawling composition jam-packed with substance. This final and eponymous song off the album features the aforementioned guest vocals, consisting of both chanting and shrieking, as well as some solid guest guitar work from the album's mix/masterer. It's a rather longwinded six minute crescendo filled with many tempo changes and transitions, but it will leave you quite pleased due to its flow, assertive instrumentals, diverse vocals and emotional outro of all things.
In all, I had very, very few issues (if any) with Age throughout its running time, perhaps aside from that awkward snare sound and sometimes over-long transitions/melodic sections.
To finally put an end to this drawn out review, I'd like to personally state that, while Age is quite a lengthy release consisting of multiple parts, it would be in your best interest...if you are a fanatic of deathcore or music akin to Aegaeon especially...to just sit or lie down, get comfy, and let the music take your senses on an adventure for 40 or so minutes. The album is best when listened to front-to-back, so take your time with it...you'll be glad you did. And, in conclusion, Age is one hell of an album that surprised me in many ways and exceed all expectations going into it.
There's just so much to say about this album that I could go on and on, but I will just leave you with this: Age and all its quirks embodies everything that makes this type of music so great and represents many of the aspects as to why I enjoy the genre so much. With all the watering down and lack of innovation, Aegaeon really pulled through and came out on top with Age and I commend them for being creative and pushing the boundaries. Age is unorthodox, it's eye and ear-opening, it's loaded with surprises and merit; it's heavy when it needs to be, melodic throughout, knows what it wants to be and has a good structure, making it an emotionally sound and musically explosive journey all around.
Fave Tracks: 'Ruination', 'Void', 'Age'
For Fans Of: Abiotic, Fallujah
**This album is available now here!**
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-Review by: Dave Raffy
Musician, reviewer, fan & promoter
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