Age, as an open-ended album title, bears a plethora of possibilities. First and foremost, a sense of timelessness—something Aegaeon’s prior releases have already established, as they’ve aged excellently. Second, a sense of solemn, stoic introspection; again, not taken likely by the band’s atmospheric, sullen and spacious take on progressive deathcore. Third, the fact that it’s been a damn age since we’ve heard any new music from the deathcore juggernauts whose early music helped define and mold the tastes of many. Put it all together and you get something worth being incredibly excited about, even if the name doesn’t give you much to go off of. Fortunately for the listener, Aegaeon have never done anything but deliver, and that remains true with their 2018 full-length record, Age. A pummeling, pounding display of relentless, riveting aggression broken up by ethereal, lofty moments of unease-inducing calm, the group are back and better than ever with heaviness that doesn’t sacrifice a damned thing to pulverize the listener, even as it sounds mature, intelligent and carefully crafted as ever.
When Aegaeon (likely jokingly) describe themselves as “depthy music,” they’re really being much more honest than their tongue-in-cheek manner might imply. Age is a masterful display of murky, grim atmosphere painted with visceral shades of ruthless, ravaging intensity. From start to finish, the release steeps the listener in heaviness that defies the knee-jerk notion of breakdowns, chugs and slams. Percussionist Matthew Paulazzo serves as the band’s backbone—and where there are breakdowns and heavy grooves aplenty, Paulazzo creates a foundation that occurs for so much more than that. Songs like “Ruination” and “Existence” show off the grisly aggression Aegaeon are capable of, but “Devolve” and “Age” are more multifaceted, wherein Paulazzo combines technically savvy fills with careful, mellow work that allows bassist Nick Scott and guitarist Sebastian Brown to create the winding, labyrinthine and immersive music Aegaeon are synonymous with. The trio are tremendously talented and it shows in every track that comprises Age, even during the many atmospheric breaks (perhaps too many atmospheric breaks given how long the listener has been kept in wait, but that’s neither here nor there). Brown’s fretwork is nothing short of dazzling, combining spacey, far-out leads with dissonant, gut-busting grooves and breakdowns that make downtempo deathcore bands sound like The Wiggles. Meanwhile, Scott’s bass adds heft, punch and a thick, smooth feel to every groove and lead while beefing up the already chunky breakdowns. In fact, beefy might be a great way to describe the more straightforward components of Age—because while there is a lot more to the release than heaviness, when it’s at its heaviest, there is damn near nothing that can top it.
Where Aegaeon’s instrumentation is as monstrous as ever, frontman Jim Martin follows suit. Martin’s voice remains the thundering, echoing and immense force that defined the band’s earlier works, confidently striding the border between catchy and crushing, his work throughout Age is nothing short of unstoppable. While every song brilliantly displays his booming voice and slick candor, “Existence” kicks the album off with Martin’s expertise excellently. As Age continues, Martin’s roar only gets more and more oppressive, constantly wearing down on the listener—but in a good way. While the band’s instrumentation often takes turns for the ethereal, Martin isn’t having any of it—his voice remains an anchor, keeping every track grounded in a gritty, thick firmament of fury and aggression.
Age has been ages in the making, so to say it’s worth the wait is praise enough—but it’s honestly more than worth it. While many constituents of the heavy music community might not have been around for the band’s early efforts, those who remember Aegaeon’s debut work will rejoice with Age’s true-to-form atmospheric, progressively-tinted deathcore. Even those who didn’t catch the band originally will release Age is exactly what they wanted, even if they didn’t know they wanted it. While it might be a little too atmospheric at points, and could do with a couple minutes less ambience and more aggression, Age is an awe-inspiring release, and nothing can take away from that.
For Fans Of: Depths, Oceano, Martyr Defiled, Nexilva
By: Connor Welsh