Aegean, the latest album from Swiss post hardcore band When Icarus Falls is not for the faint hearted, the release an intensive and provoking confrontation in spirit, intent, and sound. The seven track encounter is an extensive search and provocation for the senses and thoughts, its potent and at times brutal challenge testing and stretching limits but with a skill and enterprising invention which leaves lingering emotions in its wake, whether doubt or passion depending how it seizes you, for its imaginative narrative and emotive incitation.
Formed in 2007, the Lausanne quintet released their debut EP, Over The Frozen Seas in 2009 via Get a Life! Records. The release and their powerful and intimidating sound drew strong responses, as did their live shows which included stage sharing with the likes of Red Sparowes, Zatokrev, and Impure Wilhelmina as well as a debut tour across Europe. 2011 saw the band begin to write their debut album, taking the work of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a famous psychiatrist who described the five stages of dying: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance; as inspiration. Released through Swiss label Headstrong Music, the album is an enveloping tempest of heavy at times burdensome atmospheres veined by thunderous riffs and classically sculpted melodic seduction.
A Step Further arrives from an opening toll of resonating haunting keys and brewing distrustful ambience, its shadow driven breath building into a towering wash of tight rhythms, prowling bass, and caustic sonic persuasion. The vocals of Diego Mediano offer a squalling abrasion to the intrusive yet relatively restrained confrontation, with the union of temperament bringing a captivating and intimidating storm to bear on the ear and thoughts. It is not an easy listen but that adds to the rewarding results at its conclusion and the evoked thoughts advancing in its wake.
The following title track lays a gentle persuasive hand on the ear with beckoning beats from Xavier Gigandet leading into the melodic heart of the track with further strong temptation. As the intensity strengthens and stretches out its caustic spite with the vocals the provocateur, the melodic mastery of guitarists Luis Cordeiro and Yann Cottier paint an inspiring evocative scene which is impossible not to find imagery within whilst the bass of Claude Humbert-Droz snarls with a tempered breath from the encroaching shadows. Arguably less dramatic than its predecessor but no less potent, the song even at its immense length ignites full captivation for its incisive emotional invasion.
The likes of Acheron – Eumenides with its sludge gaited course and incendiary rhythms and the excellent What We Know Thus Far (An Inner Journey), a track which exhausts every atom and passion of its body for a mountainous excursion for the listener through ravenous and inspiring emotion, both deepen the impressive hold the release breeds. At times the album certainly pushes limits in its intensity and the listener’s endurance but rewards with an imaginative fire to the sound and songwriting which leaves the richest pleasure.
Completed by the shadowed beauty and startling atmospheric soundscape of Tears Of Daedalus and the ten minute intoxicating epic Hades, the album will easily thrill fans of the likes of Cult Of Luna, Amenra, and Neurosis but it also offers so much more for all extreme and melodically emotive metal fans. Whilst Icarus Falls have not exactly crafted a classic in Aegean it is undoubtedly an album which is a major step towards one.
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