III - Violence & Variations reviews
Storfeth on March 13th, 2013
From a simple violence arose a round of variations
It is obvious that III is the third full-length release of Aosoth. Two years after the immense “Ashes of Angels”, the French trio manages to evolve its sound even more by pushing their limits to new elusive levels.
III is not a typical black metal album that will be memorable already from the first listen. It is hard and abstruse to listen to; it is a grower. From the first second, in front of the listener opens a portal to the abyss and he inevitably crosses into it. As the descending towards the inner exploration begins, he feels hypnotized by the slow tempo of the tracks and the ominous, repetitive guitars that sound heavier compared to the past releases. The bass makes the atmosphere even thicker, while all this skepticism and dullness are interrupted by liberating outbreaks under the relentless beating of the drums. MkM sounds once more distant, with a voice that suffers, but at the same time is firm and ruthless. All these elements are solidified by a production that contributes to the already dark and foggy atmosphere of the album.
The true meaning of this album can be perceived along with the reading of the lyrics. I think this is the first time that Aosoth publish their lyrics, and they really signify their mentality. They talk about the monster that is hidden inside all of us and gradually takes control until it fully possesses us. At the end of each listen, this abyss invites us to visit her again and again. Gradually we become addicted; we need her. Slowly, as the repetitions increase, we start seeing behind the veil of the mist. A human form can be noticed and seems oddly familiar as we come closer. It is our own darker self staring at us. We struggle to keep away from him, but he is always there, at the most distant corners of our mind.
III was made to lead to misanthropy and self-destruction. Each drum beat, each riff, each curse that MkM spits out is a stab to the heart of humanity. Usually the darkest secrets dwell within ourselves, lurking for the tiniest moment of weakness to reach the surface. Aosoth seem to have accepted that, and it would be better for you to do the same.
Originally written for: The Lair of Storfeth
skaven on June 6th, 2012
All black metal groups out there trying to achieve truly morbid and abyssal sound: take heed of this album. Aosoth’s third full-length, simply titled as III, is probably the sickest sounding album I’ve heard in a long while, hands down. And this comes as no surprise really, knowing the band’s strong line-up relations with another French war machine Antaeus, so to depict III with an example, think of Blood Libels with even deeper and more droning guitar sound.
Compositionally, Aosoth delivers brilliance as well. The utterly profound and massive production works as a fitting base for the six evil pieces of black metal where tempos shift from slow menace to faster chaos. One guitar handles downtuned rhythms while another provides high-pitched discordance similar to Nightbringer, this seems to be the general structure throughout the album. The monstrous growls are handled convincingly as is the precise drumwork, battering the hell out of anything on its way.
Between the metal, brief moments of ambience appear (the beginning of ”III” having even an interesting piano pattern), providing quieter moments that are welcome due to the album’s heavy volume. And the volume is damn heavy indeed, just put a song from III to an audio editor and see how the album is master-wise pure loudness war. This is a little minus as the audio suffers from being forcedly loud, hence clipping a lot, but then again, it also works for the album’s chaotic nature.
I’m not familiar with Aosoth’s back catalogue (shame on me) so I don’t know how this compares to the band’s earlier output, but at least on its own III is one highlight of 2011’s first half, providing unresistable filth to my now-aching ears. Thus said, III is indeed a recommendable album to look into, and one of those reasons of writing reviews: to give publicity to albums that really deserve it.
4 / 5
[ http://www.vehementconjuration.com/ ]
Thatshowkidsdie on June 4th, 2012
Aosoth - III
I’ve been avoiding writing about Aosoth’s III for some time now. Why would I avoid writing about such an excellent album, you might ask? Well, to be perfectly blunt I was intimidated by it. Intimidated by the idea of attempting to translate its greatness into mere words. This is no bullshit hyperbole; I honestly believe that III is one of the most enthralling black metal albums of the last ten years; utterly devastating in its frightful, hypnotic magnificence.
Simply put, III is a pitch-black womb of distortion, inviting you to crawl deep inside and die. The album seethes and lurches; the maw of the great abyss opens wide, yawning your demise. Its atmosphere recalls Aosoth’s French black metal brethren such as Deathspell Omega, but Aosoth’s approach is less frenzied and angular, more deliberate and methodical. III also defies black metal convention by possessing crushing levels of low end; there is a eerie, droning ambience that pervades the entire album, adding to its mesmerizing qualities and tapping into something deeply primal, the rotten blackness that lies at the core of all human life, the capacity for unspeakable evil. The drone is one of the oldest known musical motifs; Aosoth use it to better effect than any black metal band I’ve encountered, imbuing their music with a tonality that is utterly unique while still holding on to genre tradition.
In that last paragraph, I referred to the album as a womb. Oddly enough, this idea occurred to me before I started reading MkM’s lyrics, which begin with: “Within your womb /Another me would be reborn / being one with you again / and you will carry me within / suffer from my weight inside / My bones will come from your bones / Your blood will create mine.” MkM’s words reference birth, death, sex and violence, painting a picture far more disturbing than the poverty-level Satanism that unfortunately makes up the bulk of black metal’s lyrical content. Don’t get me wrong, III is an extremely Satanic album, but Aosoth’s Satan doesn’t reign in some fantastical Hell, he dwells within the souls of men, just under the surface, waiting for the opportune moment to seduce and reveal his awful majesty.
Ultimately, the most fascinating aspect of III might be that it seemingly came out of nowhere. Aosoth’s two previous albums were well-executed, appropriately filthy displays of blackened orthodoxy, but in no way did they foreshadow the impressive leap in both style and substance the band has made here. Then again, I’m not sure anything could have prepared me for the time and space-stretching phantasmagoria that this album so effortlessly embodies; the “trance-out” effect created by the Norse treble attacks of old is nothing compared to what Aosoth accomplish over the course of these six tracks. Aosoth have tapped into that aforementioned inner Satan and channeled it into their music; the results are nothing short of stunning.
With III, Aosoth have birthed a bloody, malformed masterpiece, an album that not only exemplifies everything that black metal should be, but also establishes a unique voice within the black metal paradigm. Here’s to hoping they continue to look inward while striving for a piece of Lucifer. AMSG forever.
Originally written for That's How Kids Die
Orlok666 on April 8th, 2012
Violence and Variation
Aosoth has had an interesting career since it's formation. Whilst the early work focused on an old school variation of MkM's other band Antaeus, with the release of their second album Ashes of Angels they began expanding their sound with dissonance and ambience. This release, their third shows the band increasing all these aspects while discarding much of the old school elements.
However Aosoth, even whilst they drift into dissonant riffs that summon the hellish pits of the mind, never lose the muscular touch of their roots. Even at the most abstract and Deathspell Omega-ish moments, they prove to me what bands like DSO are missing. That is serious balls and a sense of where their roots are.
Many bands in the black metal scene are taking ideas like progressing the style and all that, and are missing the very mud of their existence. Whilst DSO fans will talk for endless days in nerdy tones about the meaning of their music, a band like Aosoth just doesn't fuck around. Although this release isn't my favorite by them (so far Ashes of Angels is) I enjoy the fact they can implement ideas and sounds similar to their peers yet keep them raw and aggressive.
The album is made up of malignant hymns to unknown demons lurking in the dark. Mixtures betwixt dissonant Immolation inspired riffs, some moments of doom that brings to mind Incantation and then touches of primal black metal thundering. The guitars are massive on here, layers upon layers crashing upon themselves. Bass is a dark presence lurking underneath the escalating levels of dissonant composition.
The drums tie all this together and keep the albums intensity upwards. They are fairly simple yet effective in their attack. I like the production on them a lot, they are almost distorted a bit due to the bass heavy sound, but it thumps in the right places.
Above all this are the malefic vocals of MkM, recorded with a slight distortion, and almost no other effects. They're mixed in above and yet buried at times by the instrumentation, acting as the psychopomp for our travels in hell. He carries us in to the chaos of swirling hatred. Technique is similar to his work in Antaeus, but perhaps has less insanity in it, more a cold cruel hate. This poison inside of him simmers into a malice that is perceptible and chilling.
A note to be made about the ambience on here. It's hard to say where it comes from, is it the overwhelming guitars? Keyboards? Choral samples? Maybe all the above. Any way you look at it, the effect is to take you straight to hell. Don't worry, take the clawed hand, the demons will guide you through and leave you raped and abused at the other end.
The reptilian brain responds to this work, the part of us that fears, the part of us we hide. Demons raging within the flesh seeking an escape to their torment. Although it is similar in ways to other albums coming out today, I like this more. Where DSO leave me cold, Aosoth take over. It's the fact that they haven't lost themselves in seas of pretentiousness. MkM's expressions here are filled with a truth of his emotion. It is filled with the darkness of the deepest night.
Abyssic realms open up to the listener, and I for one am enjoying the view. 'Tis better to reign in hell then serve in heaven....
FullMetalAttorney on December 13th, 2011
This Is Why French BM Is on Top
Norwegian black metal is one of two things: stuck in the past or abandoning its black metal roots entirely. For thriving black metal scenes in 2011, you need to look to the US and France.
Aosoth is a perfect example of why the French black metal scene is on top. They are clearly rooted in black metal's mood and raw, simple approach, but they've let it evolve. III is far heavier than Norwegian fare, and much scarier than anything to come out of the frozen North in several years.
Some nitpickers may say the approach favored by Aosoth (and countrymen Celeste) is too hardcore-influenced with its dissonant, atmospheric qualities. As far as I'm concerned, they can keep their rehashed-from-1995 generic stuff because this is the state of black metal in 2011.
The verdict: it's heavy and raw with plenty of dissonant atmosphere and is compelling in mood. One of the best of the year. Black metal, welcome to 2011.
originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/
CrimsonFloyd on September 13th, 2011
Hellish Black Metal
Black metal bands love finding new ways to sound evil. There is vicious evil (Mutiilation), ghostly evil (early Mayhem), ritualistic evil (early Graveland) and countless other evils. What these different faces of evil share is a cold, vast sound—the black metal aesthetic, so to speak. That changed in 2003, when Deathspell Omega released "Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice," totally inverting that aesthetic; the sweeping, frigid spirit of old was replaced with an overbearing, smothering hot tone culled straight from the bowels of Hell. Aosoth’s "III" takes this blazing, sweaty, infernal aesthetic, mixes in a touch of sludge and creates an absolute beast of an album.
Indeed, Aosoth draw a lot of inspiration from fellow Frenchmen Deathspell Omega: esoteric theological themes, dense production and nefarious riffs. However, Aosoth is far from mere Deathspell Omega worship. In contrast to the controlled chaos of Deathspell Omega, Aosoth’s sound is more streamlined; this is a direct frontal attack conducted with extreme power. A strong sludge influence gives "III" a muddy sound that is absolutely impenetrable. The riffs are thick and heavy, bearing down on the listener like still, humid air. MkM’s snarling vocals are full of spit and vinegar—the perfect complement to the nasty riffs. As if trapped in a filthy, windowless basement with the heater cranked all the way up there is no exit from sweltering, gritty atmosphere of "III."
The intense atmosphere is made bearable because the riffs are so damn groovy. The menacing hooks will stick in your head like a Satanic mantra. However, these hooks are embedded within clever compositions, full of unpredictable twists and turns. Like trying to escape a disorienting maze but always ending up right back where you started, "III" balances innovative composition with addictive melodies.
The one element that holds the album back is the pedestrian drumming. While there are a few nice fills, usually anything more than a standard blast beat and drummer BST (who is really known as a guitarist) sounds in over his head. For example, during the frantic middle section of “II,” BST’s drumming sounds exhausted, like an old hound hopelessly chasing after some sprightly foxes. Fortunately, for the most part, BST just blasts away, so the percussion remains more of a non-factor than a true detriment.
Otherwise, Aosoth have really achieved something praiseworthy. "III" blends monstrous force with cunning twists. Like one of the horrific torture chambers of Dante’s Inferno, this is simultaneously intelligent and vulgar; or in a word, evil.
(Originally written for www.deafsparrow.com )
autothrall on April 22nd, 2011
An epochal oath of ungodly grime
Almost in a parallel opposition to popular French countrymen Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord, Aosoth commit some of the most unabashed and brutal atrocities in modern black metal. However, like those acts, they are wholly endowed with the ability to concoct a harrowing atmosphere. Here upon Aosoth III, they have done so, with an album so massively produced and hostile that all the seraphim who experience it have no choice but to beat their wings or lose them through a swift, infernal devolution. But with this new album, the Frenchmen also draw comparisons to the current crop of highly cavernous, retrograde death metal acts that are populating the sub cellars and sepulchers of the underground: delivered through the impossible, thick resonance of their doom-driven guitar tone.
III is divided up into six Roman numeric titles, a practice which is confessedly growing tired the more I see it, as it serves only to leech distinction from its each constituent track. However, this is a minor annoyance, because this is not exactly the sort of experience you want to half-ass and split into components. The entire affair is a vaunted fright fest of clamor and chaos, a hybrid of drudging semantics that do not eschew some degree of creativity. Example: track "II" at around 1:10, where the monolithic discourse is interwoven with a limb of insectoid dissonance below a faint, screaming choir-like synthesizer and slowly escalating chords. "III" begins with the low thrum of piano strikes and noisy gravitas before a steady succession of battering double bass and the thick miasma of chords. "IV" represents a sparse, jangling evil construed through the debris of a landscape which no divine light has ever shone itself; while "VI" streams through alternating abyssal winds of terrible force and pensive, withdrawn regrets.
This is about 45 minutes all told, with various pieces running from 6-9 minutes in length, but trust me when I advise that you'll want to clear your calendar for the whole conflagration. I won't call Aosoth III subtle, because there's not much hidden in the background. All of its teetering layers of ambiance are rather direct, separated only by their disparate volume in the mix, but its highly effective at destroying your afternoon. I found both of the band's prior full-lengths to be passable, in particular Ashes of Angels, but this is easily a more consistent experience for those seeking to immerse themselves in a most dire realization of their surroundings, a window that cuts through the pleasantries of mundane being to reveal the appalling, parasitic subtext of all Creation. Had Aosoth included a spade and coffin with this record, I might never be writing to you again. Your loss, I'm sure. The stakes have been raised, and they're ready to welcome our unsuspecting, human husks.
III - Violence & Variations track list
III - Violence & Variations lineup