In these times, saying that a group innovates in Gothic Rock music seems a true display of audacity. However, there is a Germany-based band who has committed to revamp this style since its debut four years ago. Without losing sight of the pioneers, these German/Portuguese musicians create songs that rekindle in us deeply felt and somber memories. On the basis of emotionally loaded vocals and a deliberate guitar-switched driving, alternating enraged riffs and delicate melodies, Aeon Sable faithfully expresses a paradoxical mixture of feelings: warmth and coldness, calm and anxiety, pleasure and pain... Added to this sonic diagram is their proficient handling of pace and atmosphere, in addition to some non-intrusive assimilations of elements coming from slowed-down metal, synth music and progressive rock. Better than ever, all these strengths converge in the band's fourth full-length album, entitled "Visionaers", which definitely confirms this band as a key player in the current Gothic Rock scene.
"Visionaers" offers a crystal-clear sound pleasure that helps with going on a gradual voyage of self-discovery across bleakly prohetical fictions. Although a windchill accompanies the listener along the way, there is a great wealth of shades and hooks to enjoy. As the opening track is launched off, sound freezes soul with an intriguingly far-off vibe. "Dawn of an Era" tunes in to an otherworldly station that emits at occult frecuencies and, thereby, both the cover artwork and the title of the album assume an even more intense meaning. Synthed-bass buzzings, watery noises and unsettling downtempo drums warn a forbidding presence: "... Baphomet / the God before all gods / who shall endure to the end of the Earth". Then things are balanced with a balmy ritual air, morphed into Oriental flavored strings and female conjurations in Japanese. This track is such a rite of passage that duly prepares us to enjoy what comes next at its full intensity.
The single "Visions" appears next displaying all its anthemic power, structured around a pounding central beat and a catchy guitar monody that rings out throughout to provide a remembrance stirring up effect. It has been drawn on the effective interplay of shadows and lights, on the contrast between churningly epic riffs and compelling harmonies. Nino's vocal play threads the moods by shifting from clean to harsh tones and, over the last third, this future classic is rounded off with a shiver-sender duel between keys and strings. The same holds true for "Star Casualties", which truly honors the dark 90's through searing, sinous guitar solos, harpsichord-like haunting accompaniments and an addictive refrain that will stored in your cache: "Black silk, sunglasses - like fallen from your dreams / opium for the masses - ice-cold by all means / red lips that teaches you 'don't dare coming close' / for words that cuts through emotional overdose".
Gently introduced by jangly chords, the thrilling "Black Swan" summons us to get more in touch with our shady side, to live "eternally in sin" and so bring back the immemorial purity. Perfectly-paired bass and percussion mark an age-old ballroom rhythm, while some resplandent synth flourishes make us "dance into suicide". As the track moves forward, a tangle of suspenseful twangs are added to the mix, which together with the soulful vocal delivery and the balletic, mournful wails of guitar, lead to a huge swirling finale. The message of primordial lust as the means of getting close to the divine is succesfully conveyed through this surreal and rotating design.
While that consistency between words and sounds can be extended to the entire "Visionaers". Just pick up the poignant "Quaalude Tango", whose dual meaning is respectively reflected in the sedative-hypnotic ambiance (quaalude, the nervous system depressant drug) and the partner driving of grim bass and guitar (tango, that sad thought which is danced in couples). Assertive riff discharges with an industrial sheen lead to spherical passages within which Nino's snarling laments strike a chord with the listener, aided by the eerie synthed tunes and the abrasive distortions. Finally, the track fades to white and the last verses remain floating in a deathly hush: "... / We're drawn together in a sea of stars / and press together our secret scars /and worship us - in a million of lights / in the eternal of all nights".
Like a sort of sidereal sequel from the previous cut, "Transmigration (Stormed)" serenely flows somewhere between this world and the other. It's basically beautiful, emotional and melodious, even though it has a hammering drumbeat spine which, along with the brooding throb of the bass-lines, makes the structure tense and keeps the frost on the thermometer's screen. As occurs with the rest of the album, Aeon Sable uses its signature tools to create a touching gravity within the song. This is especially evident in the track's outcome, as the gloomy guitar solitaires interplay with the lighter atmospherics of the keyboards and the electronics. When reaching the end, Nino's echoing vocals join them and the whole thing fades away to accurately mirror the reincarnation which is addressed in the lyrics.
But the best is kept till last. "A Serpente e o Andarilho" is probably the song that better embodies Aeon Sable's imagery. Written with masterful poetry, the album's aural vision par excellence makes us sharers of an immense solitude, a world punished by the gods ("... castigado pelos deuses"). It's no coincidence that the lyrics are in Portuguese, as this language naturally transmits the feeling of irreparable loss like no other. Linked with that saudade, beautiful guitar lines shimmer in a wistfully way, while the unfussy drumming recalls an existence-long damage. Enraged, fateful riffs rebel against resignation in search of a new condition - an incorporeal one, which can be experienced within seven minutes after the song vanishes, throughout its semi-hidden second segment. Nino's vocals makes it all work, switching among wicked growls, touching clear tones and insightful letanies to meet the lyrical needs. Fearsome, yet hopeful, icy but ardent, simultaneously cheerless and bright, "A Serpente e o Andarilho" brings together all that makes this band musically unparalleled. No better way to finish off this set of classy dark brief eternities: occult ellipsis so as not to forget that Aeon Sable's oracular visions will go on to the delight of those who demand more from Gothic Rock.
Review by Billyphobia