Friday 1 March 2019

Aeon Bridge - Revelations (2019)

Country: USA
Style: Neo-Classical Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 8 Feb 2019
Sites: Bandcamp | Metal Archives | Twitter | YouTube

OK, this one caught me by surprise! I came into it thinking it was speed metal but it's really neo-classical metal, albeit not the usual shred album because everything on it is programmed and all by one lady, Jackie Regz, for whom Aeon Bridge is a solo project—and a prolific one too, given that this is her sixth album under this name since 2017. She also handles programming for a technical death metal band called Beyond Flesh.

It took me a little while to get used to this, for a number of reasons, from the lack of bass to the unmistakable electronic edge. The hardest to get used to is the fact that some of Lightning Strikes Twice, the opening track, sounds like someone playing a 33rpm album at 45rpm, with the associated increase in pitch, but, after a couple of listens, the variety that Regz put into the song becomes clear and I have to say that I rather like how she put this album together.

As you might expect for a neo-classical metal project, there's a strong focus on recognisable classical music but I'm hearing a couple of different takes on the concept.

For instance, there's an interpretation of The Hut of Baba Yaga, one of those great Russian classical pieces that sounds metal even in its original form. It comes from Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and it seems to my memory to be a relatively direct translation of the material. It's an interesting one to be sure, with a diverse palette of sounds, but it isn't a surprising one.

The other approach is to take a recognisable piece as a base, in this instance a couple of the movements from Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, and then compose, often wildly, over the top of them. At least, that's what I think is happening here. We hear the melody we know, but we also hear a lot more besides that I'm pretty sure we wouldn't hear down at our local symphony hall. Maybe I need to go back to Beethoven; I always dug the Russian composers more.

I don't recognise anything else here on that scale, though there are excerpts from Bach, Mozart and Paganini caught up within other tracks for those with a classical background to notice and I would expect that to be the majority of those buying Aeon Bridge albums. Regz knows her base.

What's perhaps most notable here is that the originals are as interesting as the time honoured material. Lightning Strikes Twice is a blitzkrieg that feels almost like an assault the first time through, but one which deepens considerably on repeat listens. Perhaps my favourite track on the album is Aeon Eternal (Love Song for the Anxious), which is experimental in nature and very rewarding, something we might expect from Joe Satriani. There's funk in here (and some recognisable bass at last) but the soloing is catchy and notable.

Everything here is instrumental except for a brief poem during Lord Renegade and the final track, Inferno, which features death growls from Jacob Rabin, who also provided guest solos on a couple of other tracks. Hearing fast and frantic death with the programming sound of Regz is yet another fascinating angle to this album, like an electronic Venom, and I wonder if this is what Beyond Flesh sound like.

I have no idea what the audience is for a project like Aeon Bridge, but while I'm impressed by Regz's obvious talent as a musician, I find myself impressed even more by her ability to keep an admirable variety on this album.

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