Siege Of Amida Records
17 March 2014
by Pete Long
When Ageless Oblivion released Temples of Transcendent Evolution back in 2011, they caused a wee bit of a buzz with their Frankenstein’s monster approach to death metal. Even a little bit of “next big thing” talk. Fast-forward three years and the follow-up, Penthos, follows the same ethos. It’s as if Cult of Luna had just mugged every death metal band they could see and stolen all the riffs.
Sure, Ageless Oblivion show off a wide range of influences, but importantly, they flow between them seamlessly. Their transitions from Akercoke-esque death metal to post-metal feels as natural and appealing as putting bacon between bread. ‘Wolf’s Head’ is probably the most straight-up Death Metal song on the album, featuring some melodic moments not unlike Dissection. The twelve minute colossus ‘Where Wasps Now Nest’ occupies the other end of the Ageless Oblivion spectrum, sprawling post-metal landscapes complete with guest female vocals.
Vocalist Stephen Jones is the glue holding it together – versatile, intelligible, emotional and aggressive – and nowhere more so than on ‘Furnace’, where he alternates between deep gutturals and a hoarse black metal howl, giving the song a biting, snarling edge. The best moments of the album are held back to the end though, with the slow-burning ‘Penthos: Lament’ and ‘Penthos: Omnipresent’ , replete with melancholic melody and brooding heaviness. At moments like those – and there are plenty of them – Ageless Oblivion sound like an emerging titan.
Richard Wiltshire’s work on the drums also deserves soloing out for comment. Drummers who eschew constant blasting and use their imagination to really drive the dynamics of a song aren’t exactly unknown, but you sure notice when one of them is behind the kit. Wiltshire is such a man.
There’s perhaps not quite the consistency of quality here to make for an all-time great, but that’s being more than a little churlish. By anyone’s reckoning, Penthos is a damn fine album – one that will be remembered come album-of-the-year lists in December, one that will spawn imitators, and one will be listened to in years to come.
Sounds Like: Neurosis, Akercoke, Morbid Angel
Standout Tracks: Where Wasps Now Nest, Penthos: Lament, Penthos: Omnipresent