I remember being thoroughly enchanted by Sulphur Aeon‘s debut full length, Swallowed by the Ocean’s Tide back when it was released in 2013. The German trio managed to create a sound so massive and crushing at the time that it was easily one of my favourite albums of the year. When it was announced that the band was finally working on a follow-up to what was a remarkable debut, I was extremely excited and here we are finally with Gateway to the Antisphere, 2 long years later.
The first thing that struck me was the change in production style on Gateway to the Antisphere. While Swallowed by the Ocean’s Tide saw a raw, murky sound, on Gateway to the Antisphere the band prefers a somewhat clearer production, though this doesn’t mean that things are any less abrasive or aggressive. Opening track …To Drown this World already sees the band displaying their musical style, like a heavier, much more crushing Behemoth or Hate, complete with the orchestration and theatrics of these Polish overlords. But things really start to get fun as soon as Devotion to the Cosmic Chaos begins, and one is assaulted by the relentless battery of drummer D., executing impossible rolls with little effort. One who has already known the quality of music on Swallowed by the Ocean’s Tide will know what to expect on Gateway to the Antisphere – raw, brutal, yet sufficiently dark but groovy death metal.
Gateway to the Antisphere is also a remarkable display of the growth in songwriting of the band. While maintaining the aesthetics and elements that they have included on Swallowed by the Ocean’s Tide, the black metal influences are extremely strong over here. The Behemoth or Azarath comparison aside, one often finds your typical dissonant riffs littered throughout the album, sounding almost like what a death metal version of bands like Thunderbolt would sound like. Of course, this is often aided by the brilliant drumming of D., who reminds us of greats such as Inferno and Stormblast.
One more thing that really sets Sulphur Aeon and other bands such as Teitanblood apart is the ability to really incorporate elements of melody, yet remaining sufficiently brutal throughout the album. This is often done through the melodic leads of guitarist T., who helps to include some moments of respite on tracks like Titans. There are even moments that sound like a much more brutal version of Gothenburg death metal, aiding fans of the more melodic variants of death metal in their transition to the more brutal and crushing styles. Abysshex in particular was a personal standout track, sounding like a cross between early-death metal-era Behemoth and Nervecell, with a tinge of groove incorporated.
If you thought that the last Behemoth release was epic, then Gateway to the Antisphere will be an even more satisfying listen. Seriously, Gateway to the Antisphere sounds as though Sulphur Aeon eats bands like Behemoth for breakfast.
1. …To Drown this World
2. Devotion to the Cosmic Chaos
4. Calls from Below
6. Diluvial Ascension – Gateway to the Antisphere
7. He is the Gate
8. Seventy Steps
9. Onwards… Towards Kadath
10. Into the Courts of Azathoth
Favourite picks: Abysshex, Conclusion