Ætheria Conscientia – Corrupted Pillars of Vanity
Can Black Metal ever be described as refined? Well, if you cite your influences as Voivod, Mare Cognitum, Wolves in the Throne Room, Oranssi Pazuzu, Blut Aus Nord, Intronaut, Rush, Nero Di Marte, Aluk Todolo, Neurosis, King Crimson, Magma and John Coltrane, I guess that your music stands a good chance of achieving a dose of sophistication.
With their second album, French band Ætheria Conscienta have managed to combine the venom of Black Metal with the relaxing sound of saxophone along with many other styles and moods. “Corrupted Pillars of Vanity” is a science fiction story made up of five tracks, all over seven minutes long. You could be forgiven at times, for thinking that it’s not really anything like Black Metal, but then here they come, blasting back in, reminding you that they truly are.
The first track is the longest on the album at over 15 minutes in length. ‘Asporhos’ Altering Odyssey’ is the start of an evolution from the band’s first album, ‘Tales from Hydhradh’. Within itself, it has five parts, each with its own style and tells of the terra-formation and colonisation of a planet.
‘The Corrupted Sacrament’ is shorter by half and seems at first, to be angrier. Short intervals of saxophones – yes, they are plural – there are normal sax and alto saxophone, act to soften the mood. This bit of the story is aeons later where society on the planet has been established and a few of the original travellers are woken from stasis to introduce new genetic materials to the population.
‘Liturgy of the Ekzunreh’ is a re-transcription of the cult’s ritual (for it is now apparent that we are talking about a religious cult here), sung in the Hydhradhian language. Has the band invented a new language? It will be interesting to see the lyrics on this one as it’s not possible to tell what is being sung.
The final two tracks go together to make one, called ‘Absurd Crusade’ which is almost 25 minutes in length. The first part is ‘Elevation in Arrogance’, and again there is a connection to the first album. To really get into the complete story it is probably necessary to be familiar with that earlier release. In this part, a renegade forms his own cult and gathers followers who then go up against the Kholoss.
Ætheria Conscientia – Elevation in Arrogance (click here if the video does not play)
The final track, and second part of ‘Absurd Crusade’ is ‘Collapse in Penance’. Here the story concludes with the insurgency failing after coming face to face with the Ancient Kholoss. As with most of the album, there’s a pleasing, if unusual, mix of black metal and the sound of brass wind instruments. Sometimes these things work, like salted caramel, it sounds like it should not, but it just does, and the result is surprisingly good.
This is another great release coming out of France, aggressive and melodic in equal measures. It’s atmospheric and intriguing. I would suggest this isn’t a typical black metal offering, but it is a very welcome one. The digital version is available on Bandcamp for a pre-order giveaway price, along with other formats.
- Asporhos’ Altering Odyssey
- The Corrupted Sacrament
- Liturgy For The Ekzunreh
- Absurd Crusade Part I: Elevation In Arrogance
- Absurd Crusade Part II: Collapse In Penance