Style: Epic Melodic Death Metal
Release Date: 6 Jan 2019
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Time was that death metal was just death metal. When I was paying most attention, it had splintered into two: the melodic style favoured in Sweden and the brutal style favoured in Florida. Well, that's not enough any more. It seems that the latter has splintered again, because slamming brutal death metal isn't remotely technical brutal death metal, and that's before you add in black influences and whatever else innovative bands are adding nowadays.
And melodic death metal is doing the same thing, because bands nowadays aren't always content with sticking to the established Gothenburg sound. Case in point: Germany's Fading Aeon, who call themselves epic melodic death metal and, frankly, I can't argue with that in the slightest. It's an enticing marriage of styles, a gift for anyone who loves the overt keyboard overlays that we tend to hear more on heavy or power metal albums, but also the growling vocal style of death metal.
I didn't know I counted myself amongst that number until I heard this, the debut release from Fading Aeon, who were formed in Kronach in Bavaria back in 2014. It leans heavily towards long songs, only one of the five on offer lasting less than eight minutes and that one almost seven, but they're all immersive and rewarding, nothing like I've heard before in the death metal vein.
In fact, with the music high in the mix and the vocals low, some of the textures reminded me of Winds of Sirius, a personal favourite of mine, who said that they played gothic metal. That goes double for the last couple of minutes of One Last Farewell, when everything slows down and moves into an echo chamber. Christian Stauch's voice had already gone there earlier in the track.
What surprises me most is that, according to their website, Fading Aeon are a trio, which seems really odd, not least because nobody's listed on keyboards at all. Something's providing that atmospheric overlay and it's definitely not the ambience in my office. Also, David Gareis is listed as the only guitarist and, there are points where it sounds to me like he's duelling with himself. Surely there are other instruments in the mix too, like the piano in One Last Farewell and the variety of horns and pipes halfway through The Journey Ends. Maybe that unknown keyboardist is responsible for all of this.
Like a lot of albums I'm enjoying lately, this one rewards a listener who comes back for a second or third run through because it's a consistent album in style and quality that has no standout tracks. Each needs the opportunity to take root in our skull and state its own case for special notice. The highlights here are not the tracks themselves but parts of them, like the guitar in Beyond the Veil, the slower sections of One Last Farewell or the liveliness of The Journey Ends.
Frankly, the album plays best as a single entity, one forty-five minute slab of epic death presented in five movements, and that's fine. After all, I doubt that anyone's looking for chart hits or radio friendly sounds on a death metal album whose average song length is nearly nine minutes. This is Fading Aeon's Opus No. 1 in E for Epic and I'm already looking forward to Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5.