Listening to Impressions, the debut album from Italian gothic metallers Aevum is pure theatre, every track an adventure which at times has ears and emotions in bliss and in other moments seriously challenged and unsure. For all its undulating triumph and uncertainties though, the album is one seriously compelling proposition which persistently ignites the imagination.
The seeds of the band began with the meeting of vocalist Evelyn Moon and pianist Richard around the changing of 2007 into the following year. The first twelve months saw the release of Celestial Angels EP and the first showing of the band’s fusion of diverse sounds. Though tagged as gothic metal, Aevum transcend a multitude of styles with their creativity as proven with Impressions and its expansive diversity. Various changes in personnel came with subsequent years before a stable line-up emerged around two years ago. 2012 also saw the released of the Nova Vita EP, again as the previous offering a self-released encounter earning good attention. Last year the band signed with Wall Records for the release of acclaimed single My Vampire before the Turin quintet converged on the studio to create Impressions. Mixed and mastered by Ettore Rigotti (Disarmonia Mundi) and released via Fuel Records, the album is a tapestry of sound and shadow fuelled emotions; the exploration of opposites using a perpetual weave of startling flavours and provocative invention upon a neo-classical and gothic metal bred symphonic canvas.
As soon as the ghostly wails and electro tempting of opener Il palcoscenico della mente grasps ears, imagination and intrigue is yanked from their slumber, the brief instrumental a haunting of sinister and captivating potency. Building a portentous air through rising harmonies and symphonic seduction, the piece soon grows into an epic and imposing electronic provocation, slipping into the mellower yet still intimidatingly textured lure of Blade’s Kiss next. The second song in no time is striding with combative rhythms and shadow cloaked sonic colour, the entrancing play of Richard against the more expansive soak of synth enterprise cast by Ian magnetic. The formidable rhythmic antagonism of drummer Matt and bassist Violet are soon laying down their thick bait too as the operatic squalls of Moon pierce the landscape, joined soon after by the potent tones of Hydra. In no time it is a maelstrom of fascinating drama and unpredictable turbulence, spoken tones from Violet and rapacious growls uniting in the eventful and resourceful bluster of individual flavours. It is a challenging proposition, more vocally than musically, but one becoming more persuasive given time and attention. The electronicore and industrial elements of the song provide further transfixing and exhilarating temptation, adding to a song, which as the album, has plenty to excite and enthral but a few moments which worry personal tastes, which maybe something as varied and experimentally imaginative as this was always going to come up against.
Intermezzo is another bewitching instrumental, its melancholic flame of brass sounding keys dour but spicy bait before The Battle takes over with a sorrowful caress of piano cast melodic emotion embraced by an evocative synth crafted atmosphere. Hydra adds his croon to the poetic landscape next and is almost immediately joined by the rich throated narrative of Moon. As the music is ever evolving across songs, the band presents each narrative in a web of primarily English and Italian presentation, both languages interlocking seamlessly. Bulging rhythms push the walls of the track outwards as a great vocal mix almost toys with the listener whilst the guitar of Lord Of Destruction sculpts its own gripping adventure into the engrossing soundscape. A spellbinding song which just gets better the further into its virulent thirteen minutes you go, it sets a fine plateau for the album which the classical beauty of Il lamento della ninfa cannot match but certainly adds a fresh vein of masterful exploration to the release.
The swift shadow lit kiss of Impressioni leads to the outstanding Lost Soul, an imposing and voracious roar of a track which charges through ears like an adrenaline fuelled lover equipped with an armoury of the folkish vivacity and death bred savagery and undertaking a do or die mission. It is a blistering predator of a track, every second either musically or vocally an experiment of tenacious invention and sonic experimentation. The song leaves ears and passions bruised and blissful as it forges the album’s pinnacle.
To Be or…to Be in its smouldering individual way is another track which brings new surprises with every twist and melodic swing within in its creative emprise. Irresistible classical and jazz seeded persuasions settle easily in ears just as the ruggedly melodic textures and more blackened metal essences seducing from within the bold drama. As the album, it is a track which takes a few listens to reveal its majesty but rewards relentlessly once understanding is found, much as after the dark menacing skies of the album’s instrumental title track, the mighty Monsters. Dark clouds instantly smother ears as the soaring tones of Moon scythe through their intimidating ambience, but within the tempestuous climate the band continually switch from a forceful stride to a ravenous charge unleashing a kaleidoscope of almost salacious sounds and fiery ingenuity which colours the explosive theatre of it all.
Finishing on Adieu à la scène with its music box like waltz, Impressions is not going to be for everyone and definitely needs proper attention and time given to it. Its first touch left us rigorously unsure but compelled and it was only over numerous plays that the songs and Aevum’s imagination found clarity in thoughts and emotions. There are still parts which fail to convince but for the main Impressions is a thrilling and hypnotic adventure all gothic, symphonic, and avant-garde metal fans should have a go at.
Impressions is available now via Fuel Records http://www.fuelrecords.it/?wp_releases=impressions and digitally @ http://aevumopera.bandcamp.com/album/impressions
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