Aghora
Entheogenic Frequencies


4.0
excellent

Review

by ChaoticVortex USER (62 Reviews)
June 25th, 2020 | 13 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An Escher maze of dense riffs and distant soundscapes.

Everybody has their own musical kinks. A deep love or appreciation for a certain genre, a certain band or a sound that seems strange, inexplicable, or outright incomprehensible for others. Something that makes you dig deep down to find the songs, albums or bootleg footage buried deep in the musical underground performed by a select few people for even fewer people. But those people, just like you, are all connected by the deep appreciation for the unparalleled musicianship. For me, this sub-genre is what I would like to call “jazz fusion metal”. Brought to the forefront by the mastermind of Cynic in the 90’s and then continued by a number of progressive metal groups in the early aughts, the blend of heavy. surging riffs with calm passages, unexpected rhythm changes, varied instrumentals, and numerous influences is one that I became infatuated with in my collage years. And even now in 2020 it warms my heart to some of these bands still being around and creating this uncompromising and totally unique style of music.

Aghora was among these bands as well. The brainchild of guitarist Santiago Dobles, Aghora released two excellent albums in the 2000’s that combined extraordinarily complex, heavy riffs contrasted with etheric female vocals and a big dose middle eastern influence. The dynamic shifts between the harsh and the calm sections carried the marks of Cynic, so much so that even two of its members, bass phenomenon Sean Malone and the late Sean Reinert played with the group. But after 2006’s Formless came an awfully long period of silence, so long that most people, including myself had given up hope that Aghora might release any new material in the future. But after 13 years, its finally here, the third album titled “Entheogenic Frequencies”. The biggest relief for me however is the lack of disappointment. Because Aghora continues to do what they are good at. Not without any changes of course.

The very first and important fact you must know about this record is that unlike its predecessors it is a fully instrumental album. The light, often angelic female vocals (formerly done by Danishta Rivero and Diana Serra) are completely gone giving full space to the instrumentals. For many this will be a soaring, possibly deal-breaking loss, and even though I very much enjoy this album, I can’t help to feel that an integral part is missing here that made the previous two album so full and complete. Fortunately, every other aspect of the album is on point and serve as a good reminder why Aghora became such a cult favorite among progressive metal circles.

The opening song “Path” instantly sets the standard with its fast paced, detuned, almost djent-like riffs, Alan Goldstein’s beefy fretless basslines and double bass drumming, but only one minute into this death metal-like massacre we get a clean breakdown and a beautiful harmonic guitar solo. The duel dynamics are full display here, and even more so are Santiago Dobles’s exceptional six-string skills. “Entheogenic Frequencies” is quite possibly the most technical, riff-heavy and guitar-centric album Aghora has made, Dobles archives no small feat by filling all eight songs and 63 minutes with inspired and creative power accords, bridges and fluid leads that perfectly match to the tone of the song. If we’re at an ethereal, slow section, we get carefully bended notes and harmonic arpeggios, other times we get fast paced, neo-classical shreddings or jazzy, chaotic jumping. It is all consistent and fluid with his style often reminding me of Jeff Loomis from Nevermore.

The heaviness and power of the riffs are also undeniable, from the groove metal-esque mid-paced attack of “Arrival” to a song like “Cave” which feels like a classic American power metal song on modern prog steroids and a totally laid back second half attached to it. The ambience and the keyboards do not disappear they just take a bigger backseat to a more traditional, metal band setting (guitar-bass-drums) but there is room for everyone and everything. With an average song length between six and ten minutes, there is more than enough room for Dobles and his bandmates to experiment and deepen every musical horizon the band has seen so far. A major example for that is “Kingdom of Ea” maxes out the Egyptian-Eastern vibes with some of the most authentic Pyramid-riff and atmosphere outside of a Nile record (minus the death growl vocals).

Even the longer songs which occupy the back half of the album such “Tree of Answers” or “The Marduk Prophecy” remain engaging and interesting not just for fans who like noodling instrumentals, because the technical flair never becomes self-indulgent or overwhelming, a trait that always served Aghora well. There is a sense of conscious restraint, an aim to get to the listener emotions despite the numerous impressive breakdowns and solos. The last epic song “Truth is Alien” a truly majestic piece of Babylonian sci-fi metal, opening up with a minute long fretless bass display before turning into a frantic tango between guitars, keyboards and bass, matched with impeccably timed drums, energetic shifts and ending with an explosive finish.

The production might not be on par with some of the blockbuster metal releases you can hear, but it is more than serviceable, giving each instrument enough breathing space to create that special otherworldly aura. The guitars hit hard, or sometimes caress your eardrums with their soft, elegant movement. There is a sense of rawness that gives the music much bigger authenticity that the perfect polish. And that is what “Entheogenic Frequencies” is: An authentic, non-compromising display an unique band, that even under certain limitations can speak to both the mind and the soul.



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user ratings (9)
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
ChaoticVortex
June 25th 2020


1334 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Welcome to another edition of "Chaotic reviews an album which was listened by a total of 10 people".

AsleepInTheBack
Staff Reviewer
June 25th 2020


7484 Comments


^the story of my (sput) life ... I feel that pain

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
June 25th 2020


9691 Comments


Album stream:
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvzu6GTkEgCXvaSehr-0Ht-RBgcP1Zp6K

Good review albeit a bit lengthy, pos.

Due to lack of time, I listened to this a couple of times, and I remember searching for the female vocals that, along with the music, blew my mind in Formless.

Also, I remember not becoming an instant fan of the sound work, but I have to re-listen to make sure, thanks for the reminder.



[...] reviews an album which was listened by a total of 10 people

I can relate to that too ;-)

Keyblade
June 25th 2020


30571 Comments


wow I had no idea there was a new Aghora album

Keyblade
June 25th 2020


30571 Comments


"The light, often angelic female vocals (formerly done by Danishta Rivero and Diana Serra) are completely gone giving full space to the instrumentals. For many this will be a soaring, possibly deal-breaking loss"

:[

PortalofPerfection
June 25th 2020


2712 Comments


^^^Yeah that was honestly like…80% of the appeal of the previous albums, the way the vocals carried you through the technicality. Will give this a shot but I'm not expecting to be engaged much.

ChaoticVortex
June 25th 2020


1334 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah with the loss of the vocals this album requires a very specific taste. But I loved Exivious (which was also instrumental) so it wasn't too bad for me.

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
June 25th 2020


28546 Comments


the story of my (sput) life ... I feel that pain [3]

Only that for me is not 10 people, but me and the other guy.



Digging: Taj Mahal Travellers - July 15, 1972

OmairSh
July 1st 2020


17567 Comments


wow I had no idea there was a new Aghora album [2]

Wtf this fell completely under the radar for me

Ecnalzen
January 5th 2021


11313 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Finally checkin this



Interested to hear them do an inst album, altho, I do love the vocalist from Formless and was also sad she did not return

DoctorVelvet
March 23rd 2021


183 Comments


Pissed that my most recent "has Aghora released a new album yet" search was one separated by a particularly long (couple of years evidently) gap from the one that came before it, and as such, it's led me to only learn of this just now. Or no one had bothered to update the releases section of the band's wikipedia as of five or six months ago, a time when I could have sworn I had looked it up.

In any case. The sudden, intense peak of excitement hadn't even worn off by the time I had realized this release was instrumental, only moments later, upon having finished streaming the first track.

I'm now on the third song, and still listening. Nothing is going to shed the flaw of the loss of the vocals, but I'm still eager for my impression of it. Good music is good music and I'm hoping I can come away with an ultimately positive opinion of the album, when the dust settles.

Keyblade
March 23rd 2021


30571 Comments


they've apparently remastered the s/t this year

Ecnalzen
March 23rd 2021


11313 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I wasn't real into the vocal style on the first one



Might have to give it another go one of these days





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