Review Summary: Impressive songwriting combined with a frightening atmosphere make III a worthy addition to Europe's ever expanding black metal scene.
Europe has always been the breeding ground for many great black metal acts since the genre emerged in the 80's. Back then, most of the prominent bands came from Norway and its surrounding countries. However, since the second wave of black metal in the 90's more and more black metal acts have popped up around the world, especially in America, where the genre has since then garnered a lot of popularity. But now, it seems that Europe is ready to reclaim its crown. A powerful surge of black metal bands has arisen in France, and they bring us a new and refreshing form of black metal. Next to the big names like Peste Noire, Blut Aus Nord and Deathspell Omega another act has stepped into the light, called Aosoth. While the band was merely following in the footsteps of the aforementioned bands on their previous efforts Aosoth
and Ashes of Angels
, their newest effort III
sees the band maturing and developing its own sound. A sound that turned out to be quite heavy.
Aosoth's new sound has made quite a turn, coming from a pretty standard black metal sound, mostly influenced by the likes of Deathspell Omega. The new sound that is showcased on III
is one of increased power and maturity. Not only did they improve their overall songwriting, but they also utilized a new form of production, which results in a heavy, muddy sound quality. This enhances the overall impact of the songs, creating a very heavy, creepy atmosphere. Of course, this enhanced atmosphere can not be credited to the production only. The keyboard intro to 'III-3' for example is sure to make a chill pass through your spine while listening, while the main riff of 'III-2' could be used perfectly in to enhance one of those terrifying moments in a good horror movie. Of course, one could not look past the vocals on III, and they might just be the cherry on this cake of horror. Dark and enthralling, MkM's vocals tear through the muddy atmosphere and will make you shiver to the bone.
The atmosphere does, however not detract from the fact that the riffs on this album are quite repetitive, although they are very well executed and fit into the overall 'dark scheme' that this album represents. This is a major downside to this artificially enhanced grim atmosphere, which is a shame because it does make the music a whole lot more frightening. The blurred out sound may enhance the overall feel of the album, but the fact is that when you listen to the album the tracks tend to blur together as well. This makes it harder to enjoy the tracks within their own right, as opposed to seeing them within the context of the album, which could be viewed as one long track. This actually makes a lot of sense if you look at the names of the tracks which are, as said, just numbers. This can be led to believe that the album actually forms a sort of story. While on the subject of storytelling, the lyrics on III can be considered to be pretty 'old-school' as they deal with themes like the occult, darkness and satanic rituals. Nothing too special, but they do fit in with the overall feel of the album.
However, it must be said that while the tracks may come off as a bit dumbed down, they still hold a distinct kind of value to them. Every song does carry its own mark and as a whole the album just fits. For example,'III-1' and 'III-6' may sound a lot alike when you listen to the album for the first time, but when you fully indulge yourself in the music you will notice how different they actually are, all while still fitting together as if they were part of the same song. As said, this makes the songs come off as little weak when listened to outside of the context of the album, but this is a showcase that Aosoth are in fact pretty impressive songwriters. Too bad that they don't quite manage to fully showcase this because of the production.
As it stands, III is a major step forward for Aosoth in creating their own distinct sound and it also marks a big step up in the area of songwriting. The heavy production was a bold choice and while it enhances the atmosphere, it also has an effect of dumbing down the music to a point where it overshadows the pretty impressive songwriting. Still, III
is a great effort from a band that is still developing its own sound and just might impress us in the near future with a groundbreaking black metal effort. In the meantime, III
will suffice as yet another enjoyable black metal effort.