The Church Within Records – October 2014
4/10 – review by Jessie Rodgers
It takes a masterpiece of a song to justify being an hour long, comprising an entire album – or else it risks being called “pretentious”. It has to be truly epic, taking the listener on an emotional journey, if it is to avoid losing the listener’s interest.
Aeonsgate’s debut release, Pentalpha, does not make the cut, despite the group being billed as a “superband” and the song/album itself being intended as a story about the first moments of a person’s death. Mats Leven’s voice is already known by fans of doom legends Candlemass, and it fits perfectly in this setting. Drummer Marco Minneman, of Necrophagist and Ephel Duath fame, does a remarkable job as drummer as well, helping to create the trance-inducing vibe that the band was clearly aiming for on this record. As a doom record, it starts off well: within the first couple of minutes, it transitions from ambient keyboards, to a monologue about death and sins, to an endlessly repeating guitar line and echoing vocals that seem to crawl across a doomy landscape. Everything is going great until the song gets too comfortable with itself, and the same few guitar riffs (with little variation, and overpowering the other instruments) trudge on for almost the entire song.
The montony is somewhat eased by various other guitar and keyboard solos, as well as Mats Leven’s raspy vocals, but the sheer, mind-numbing repetitiveness will drive listeners insane before the end of the song. Taking certain mind-altering substances before listening to this record may be required in order to fully enjoy it. (Note: I have not taken any mind-altering substances while reviewing this album. Also, don’t do drugs, kids.) At several moments throughout the 60-minute song, the band changes things up a little bit; the guitar riffs ease up, giving the other instruments a moment to shine, and marking a new moment in this story of death.
This breath of fresh air lasts a few minutes, and then return to the same tedious riffs and patterns once more. If the band had trimmed the fat and cut this song down to 10-15 minutes at most – maybe even divided it up into several different songs – it would be much more enjoyable to listen to. If Jondix, the guitarist/mastermind of the band, had included more than 3 or 4 riffs in 60 minutes of audio, it would tell more of a story. The band has set lofty goals for themselves, but Pentalpha is, sadly, not the magnum opus they wanted it to be.