Thursday, January 3, 2013


Aeba - Nemesis, Decay of God's Grandeur
Self-Released, 2012
Genre: Melodic Black Metal

1. The Hunter and the Hunted One
2. Towards the Grandness from Above
3. Leitwolf
4. Shatterer of Worlds
5. In Memoriam
6. Where I am there is No God
7. Amok - Natural Born Killer
8. Antagonism, Eternal...

As expected, after four years arrives the new Aeba album. Sadly this is also to be Aeba's last album. The band has decided to put the project to rest as of 2013. It is quite unfortunate, because I feel that Aeba is really hitting a high note in their compositions, but it was also very interesting to see that this was independently released by the band. That, in no way, diminished the quality of the packaging, thankfully. Like "Kodex V" we have a beautiful digipak design with a panelled booklet inside. I'm not really a fan of panels and prefer a stapled book, but the design and layout is pretty nice.

One thing I will never complain about when a band decides to stop is if they manage to end on a high note. "Nemesis" is definitely the highest note for Aeba's career. Over the years we've seen them steadily improve and even change some of their approach to song writing and Black Metal altogether. "Nemesis" takes an even more aggressive approach to their Melodic Black Metal style, which instantly makes me love this album a lot more. Aeba has often sat in the mediocre, but solid range of Black Metal for me, which is probably why they've never really been well known or talked about on a larger scale. However, with "Nemesis" I think they actually squeak into the range of really well done Black Metal. I've found myself paying much more attention to the music this time around it certainly is a lot more interesting. They certainly haven't done away with their usual melodic moments that their long time fans expect, but they've written the music in such a way that it is just vastly more interesting to engage with.

If you are a fan of Melodic Black Metal, then I would rank "Nemesis" as an album that you should really spend some time checking out. I'm not sure I would have ever said this about Aeba before. They were always a band to hear once you've exhausted all the great and necessary pieces, but "Nemesis" will satisfy that high quality requirement too. Sad to see them end the project when they've released such a great record, but at least we have something wonderful in the end.

Aeba - Kodex V
Twilight, 2008
Genre: Melodic Black Metal

1. Lux ex Tenebris
2. More than Hate
3. Nemesis - Lass Sie Brennen
4. Seven Souls
5. Lifecode Sin
6. La Petite Morte
7. Geist der Dekadenz
8. The God Below Us
9. De Adventu Antichristi et Fine Mundi
10. Ruins of Heaven
11. King or Slave

Keeping up with Aeba's seemingly intermittent return to metal, since their album releases span nearly four years between albums. This is never a bad thing as long as your albums are solid and I'd rather eleven new songs on a full-length (especially at over an hour in length!) than three songs on an EP every year, just so the "name" can stay out there.  Based on "Shemhamforash", I was actually pretty interested in hearing new material from this long running German band and I'm happy to say that "Kodex V" improves on their style even more than ever before, this might have to do with the arrival of new guitarist Xsaahr, which may have really allowed them to flesh out the guitar sound. This release comes as a beautiful digipak with a full booklet.

"Kodex V" feels more like a return to basics with respect to metal. They've really taken all the keyboards out of their music and focused on guitar writing, which is something I appreciate a lot more. A lot of the Symphonic metal, in general, doesn't it do it very much for me, so I was able to get into "Kodex V" even more than their prior albums. Since they still kept that melodic atmosphere they draw their style a lot from the early Swedish scene, I feel. Bands like Dissection, Lord Belial, Sacramentum, Sorhin, and Siebenbürgen come to mind with this release. There are some tracks like "The God Below Us" that have a very distinct Thrash Metal feel throughout a good portion of it. That's one of the few that steps outside the Melodic Black Metal style, they rest are firmly rooted in that genre. Aeba do a great job at composing songs in an aggressive fashion, but also having parts that come off as quite beautiful sounding.

Melodic Black Metal is sometimes hard for me to review, because, while being good, it doesn't make me pay extremely close attention to it. I tend to wander in and out of these kinds of albums, which is probably why I do not listen to this style very often. Either way, if you are far more into the Melodic Black Metal style than I am and you fiend for this, I think "Kodex V" is an excellent album to check out. It certainly satisfies the desire for this style! I really would like to see Aeba write in this fashion more often... perhaps the future will give us more, but we'll have to wait, at least, four years I'm sure.

Aeba - Shemhamforash - Des hasses Antlitz
Twilight, 2004
Genre: Melodic Black Metal

1. Intro
2. Mit Zorn in Meinem Herzen
3. Where No Light Is
4. The Angel of Genocide
5. As Wolf Among sheep
6. Between the Abyss
7. Storm of Vengeance
8. Shemhamforash - Des hasses Antlitz
9. Into the Dark Valley
10. Hate is Not Enough

This is Aeba’s fourth effort and by far their best and most successful effort thus far.  It is the most mature and well produced.  However, they have had some stark line-up changes.  They have lost a founding member of the band, their original drummer, Nidhøgg, and replaced him with Infernal Desaster.  He’s a solid drummer so I have no complaints about his performance on this album.  Though they didn’t even list a drummer for “Rebellion” so I am unsure of who played on that album, so Nidhøgg may have been gone for a lot longer, though it was likely the original drummer.  They have also gotten a new keyboardist to replace Stephanie, so she had a rather short career with the band.  Anyway, as soon as you put this in your player you can tell this is a different band.

For the past three albums they have started each opus with a keyboard based intro.  This album has an atmospheric intro as well, but it’s more based around samples and things of that nature than a flat out keyboard intro like on previous albums.  “Shemhamforash” seems to be more of a blend between “Rebellion” and “Flammenmanifest.”  Overall it seems to cater more towards Melodic and fierce Black Metal rather than Symphonic Black Metal, so I would say this is more of a continuation of “Flammenmanifest” than “Rebellion.”  However, the Thrash sections found on “Flammenmanifest” are nowhere to be found on “Shemhamforash.”  Also the keyboard arrangements are very low key again.  In “Rebellion” they were a bit more in forefront, but like on “Flammenmanifest” they are back in the far background.  There are some somber and very melancholic tracks on here but then you have tracks like “The Angel of Genocide” which is a whirlwind Black Metal composition that I’ve been saying these guys should play!  This album is way more of a success for me because the intense Black Metal dominates this release and I think that suits this band’s style and approach better.  On prior albums I felt the riffs that went with their intense sections were better than their slower Melodic Black Metal riffs.  I’ve heard better Melodic Black Metal riffing from other bands, but Aeba seemed to have a better knack at the harsher material.  So as you can see I feel this album was a much more fitting album for this band and I think they finally fell into a compositional method that works best for them.  The somber and melancholic sections are still present here, but they are nicely weighed against faster and more hateful passages without sounding overly choppy.  They figured out on “Flammenmanifest” how to transition the two styles together fairly smoothly and they used that knowledge even more effectively here.

A couple gripes I have with the album are the title and the band pictures.  Frankly their Black Metal imagery on this release is so cliché it hurts.  It’s to the point where they look silly rather than scary.  I mean come on the guy in corpse paint throwing the horns and holding a bottle of alcohol just looks comical to me.  It looks like the imagery is more candid rather than serious.  When compared to the prior releases where they actually looked like they were trying to use the imagery, on “Shemhamforash” it looks like they’re just goofing around.  Obviously that doesn’t change the fact this album sounds great, but it just looked silly to me, this imagery is why I can’t take bands like Maniac Butcher all that seriously.  But Aeba sounds like they want to be taken seriously, so I’m just saying I think they could use the imagery more effectively on their albums.  It is one thing to be silly and laugh with your friends, which even I have done when in corpse paint and what not, but I wouldn’t be able to take myself seriously as a musician if I pressed it onto an album that I released.  Maybe that’s just me, and I’m sure there are many people out there saying that “image is nothing” and reciting a Sprite commercial to me, but imagery does have its marketable aspects.  For example, the album cover of “Shemhamforash” is very eye catching, it’s pretty much the main reason I wanted to hear Aeba.  Here’s the ideaology: if a band spends that much time on their imagery and making their album look well done, what must their music sound like?  Granted this isn’t something that is 100%, but often times if you look at bands with eye catching album covers (and most of these things are designed by the band) then typically they take their music pretty seriously.  And no I don’t buy albums solely based on colorful artwork, and no not all bands with cool covers are good, take Bloodhammer’s “Post-Apocalypse Trilogy,” that album did not live up to it’s cover quotient.  So this obviously isn’t a 100% guarantee, but it’s helped more often than not in my opinion.

Lastly the title of the album “Shemhamforash” is odd.  I looked it up and it’s some Hebrew thing that means “the explicit name” referring to God.  Apparently Anton LaVey picked it up and is now used as some sort of hails in terms of that Satanic religion.  So now it has something to do with Satanism more than the Hebrew meaning.  Why don’t I like this?  Well, frankly, LaVey Satanism is retarded.  Look at that, he takes the name of God and then applies it to his version of Satanism.  It’s just silly, I mean, I can’t think of better evidence that LaVey was just making this shit up off of a whim.  Its silly things like this why Black Metal as a whole has typically shunned that brand of Satanism, and with good reason.  Now I don’t know what the lyrics to Aeba’s songs are, but I surely hope they aren’t touting the torch of LaVey.  LaVey even attempted to recruit the early bands of Black Metal, but they rejected his offer because they even knew that this form of “Satanism” was no different than Christianity, in the sense of foolish and fabricated stories.  Black Metal is a war against such things; LaVey Satanism is about living peaceably and not bothering others, quite a difference from a genre that wants to tout an image of war.  To Aeba’s defense they don’t have anything about the Satanic Church in the back of their booklet or thanking it, so that leads me to believe they may not be affiliated.  However, they may mask this belief because it may not yield the kind of publicity they want.  Who knows, until I actually ask the band this question directly, I will not know.  Anyway, at this point, the word Shemhamforash is used by the Satanic Church, and may have been a buzz word the band picked up on and felt like using because it might have older demonic tendencies.  It does have older tendencies, but they are anything but demonic.  However, I could be way off base and they might actually be using the ancient Hebrew incarnation of the word and are making reference to it in a far more intelligent manner than I am currently supposing.  Maybe I should interview this band…  I did seek out an interview with them and nothing was mentioned of LaVey or the Satanic Church, but rather the band members own idea of Satanic ideology, so there is hope!

Anyway, this is by far the best Aeba album ever released and I would recommend this to a degree.  They are still not performing the most cutting edge style of Black Metal, but I think they finally found a good medium for what they were trying to accomplish.  The production levels are even better than the last and the delivery is even more hateful than before.  I think this album has a lot of things for fans of varying degrees of Black Metal,  Anyway, I recommend this and I think most people would find it fairly enjoyable at the very least.

Aeba - Rebellion - Edens Asche
Last Episode, 2001
Genre: Symphonic Black Metal

1. Majestic Veil of Darkness
2. Sacred Demon Angel
3. Once You Summoned Me
4. ...Between Wrath and Anguish
5. Darkness - Embrace My Soul
6. Dominion of Terror
7. Flammenherz
8. Spiritual Evolution
9. Rebellion - Des Zorns Banner
10. Kristalltränen

After the performance on “Flammenmanifest” I was curious to see what they would put out on their follow up album.  I was surprised with what “Rebellion” sounded like, because they have returned to the Symphonic Black Metal style, similar to “Im Schattenreich…”  However, they did apply what they learned and used it on the “Rebellion” recording just like on “Flammenmanifest.”  I was somewhat expecting them to go for a fiercer edge, but they did not go that route.  In fact the songs seem to be slower and more melancholic, more so than even the parts of “Im Schattenreich…”

I’m not positive, but maybe this shift is related to the fact they changed Keyboardists.  Maybe on “Flammenmanifest” they were phasing out Daemonia, or she just wasn’t participating as much with the band and that forced the band to write songs that were a lot more guitar driven.  Maybe the work on “Rebellion” is what Aeba really wants to sound like.  From the intro track you can sort of tell that the new keyboardist, Stephanie, is a better composer and player than Daemonia and maybe they wanted to incorporate that fact as much as possible in the composition.

Like I said before, I was surprised they shifted back to this.  I honestly had a harder time getting into this album, but as I’ve said on numerous occasions, I’m not a die hard Symphonic Black Metal fan.  As before, they didn’t drown the music in synths, thankfully, so it was definitely something I could listen to and the production was similar to that on “Flammenmanifest,” so you can hear what’s going on quite well.  Though, when I first put this on right after “Flammenmanifest” it seems like the production is a little quieter, still mixed very well, but quieter for some reason.  It’s a lot more solid in composition also, which is another thing they kept from “Flammenmanifest” and thankfully this return didn’t bring up the choppiness of “Im Schattenreich…”  During parts I would compare them to early Hecate Enthroned a bit because most of the songs have a much more melancholic feel to them rather than a fiercer feel to them, much like “Slaughter of Innocence” did.  Plus on the song “Once You Summoned Me” Isegrim uses shriekier vocals making the resemblance even more apparent, however, he doesn’t use the insanely high shriek like you find on Hecate Enthroned.  The only song that really has a major tempo shift is “… Between Wrath and Anguish” which has a considerable amount of blasting sequences and I quite enjoyed this intense display on this album.  Maybe they felt it was time to mix it up and stray away from the melancholic compositions.  While this may have been the case the majority of the music was still somber, beautiful and melancholic, so I had a harder time getting into the album.  I typically go for the uglier side of Black Metal, so this wasn’t entirely for me, but if you’re someone who is looking for solidly written Symphonic Black Metal, I really don’t think you could go wrong with this release.  I definitely recommend “Rebellion” over “Im Schattenreich…”  There’s even this one part where “Flammenherz” is closing out and it’s very reminiscent of The Abyss song off their album “The Other Side.”

Overall there’s a lot more to this album than “Flammenmanifest” but I liked the work on “Flammenmanifest” a little bit more despite the fact it lacked a bit more direction.  “Rebellion” certainly isn’t a bad recording by any means, but it just wasn’t fierce enough for me.  I do like hypnotic styled Black Metal that is quite relaxing, in a way, but I seem to only enjoy that when it’s achieved through conventional instruments.  Either way, if you’re a fan of Symphonic Black Metal I really think this is what you would be looking for.

Aeba - Flammenmanifest
Last Episode, 1999
Genre: Black Metal

1. Until the Darkness...
2. Seelenfrost
3. Winds of the Dusk
4. Shadows Over Gods Creation
5. Todeshass (Of War and Darkness)
6. Inimicissimus
7. The Dark Manifestation
8. ...Never Ends

This is Aeba’s second effort and as soon as you put this on you can tell we’re dealing with a band that has already matured a little in sound.  The production alone is a lot better and the drum work feels a lot stronger when compared to “Im Shattenreich…”  Either way you can just tell they’ve learned from their debut release and are trying different things overall.

One of the interesting things about Aeba is they seem to enjoy writing rather long songs, with most of these tracks being over the seven minute mark.  A testament to them is that you don’t even notice!  Usually if a generic sounding band writes excessively long songs you tend to notice how boring it gets after a while and that’s why if you’re a generic band it’s usually good form to keep songs five minutes or under, but Aeba break away from this rule of thumb.  They are good enough writers where they don’t have to fall into this trap and they keep the songs moving along quite nicely to the point where parts of the song aren’t over played.  It’s not like the astonishing bands where you really don’t want the song to end, but Aeba’s songs just feel complete.  They’re not too long; they’re not too short, they’re just right.

Another shift from “Im Schattenreich…” is the use of keyboards.  They’re far more low key on “Flammenmanifest,” in fact I would say they barely make an appearance and that’s why I wouldn’t even term this as a Symphonic Black Metal album.  Overall this is more of a traditional Black Metal album mixed with Melodic Black Metal.  There are parts in the song “Tödeshaß (Of War and Darkness) that even remind me of something like Svartsyn, which is great!  Other changes are that they added in a lot of catchier riffing and have a slightly Thrashier feel in certain parts, which wasn’t really found on “Im Schattenreich…”  This is overwhelmed by the Melodic touches which they seem to favor, but you can tell they’re experimenting with different blends.  They still used the clean guitar passages like you heard in “Im Shattenreich…” but I think they were blended much better on “Flammenmanifest.”  This is what I meant by being more mature writers, they’re not nearly as erratic as before and the songs on the album go together and flow together much better than before.  It’s nice to see that they’re not just a stagnant band and they’re trying to write different Black Metal, while keeping their core concept of what Black Metal should sound like.  I do respect bands like this, because they don’t just release the same album everyday, they try something new but still keep it Black Metal.  The vocal work is great just like in the last album, but you can tell it was mixed a lot better in this recording.

In the end they’re still technically rather generic, but have released something much better this time around and it’s actually much more listenable than their debut effort.  I’m still not sure if Aeba have truly found their niche in Black Metal, as their sound still isn’t really something that really stands out.  They could be on their way and this album leaves me wondering if they’ll eventually end up dropping the keyboards altogether.  If they move into something more powerful and extreme sounding I think it would do them justice.

Aeba - Im Schattenreich...
Last Episode, 1998
Genre: Symphonic Black Metal

1. Rising Black Dominion
2. Gottesmord
3. Dragonstorm
4. Ewigkeit - Gedanken Einer Misanthropischen Seele
5. Revenge - The Strength Beyond the Light
6. Superiority is the Gift of Hate
7. Zerfall

Aeba was another one of my many random purchases in my search for more bands that I would possibly like.  I mostly picked this up because it was released on Last Episode based on my past experience with purchasing albums they put out such as Isegrim, I’ve been quite pleased.  I wasn’t expecting anything fully ground breaking, I’ve never heard Last Episode put out something incredibly compelling, but what they have put out has typically been pretty well done, so I figured I would give them a try.

I’ve noticed that from my perception my expectations going into anything are what really make or break my liking an album.  If I’m expecting something spectacular and I hate it, I hate it a lot more than I would if I was just expecting something mediocre.  Say what you will about the German Black Metal scene, but there haven’t been too many German bands out there who really release a new feeling to Black Metal.  Yes, they do have a bit of their own sound because of their region, but as a listener I can’t help but feel like there’s something missing from their compositions usually.  It’s like their atmosphere isn’t as present as some of the other regions of the world, I really can’t explain this, but Germany for the most part has fairly fierce Black Metal bands and if that’s something you are looking for, you will enjoy German Black Metal.  Regardless of how generic it is, I can typically yield some enjoyment from that form of Black Metal, so I have been pleased with my German purchases for the most part.

Aeba is no exception to this rule, thus far.  Aeba are a pretty solid Symphonic Black Metal band and they have the Symphonic’s in the background enough to have a good mix with the Black Metal.  There are very few Symphonic Black Metal bands I enjoy that drown their music in synths, and since Aeba doesn’t do that I find them a fair listen overall.  Luckily the music seems to be a lot more guitar driven and they draw their atmosphere from that rather than trying to drown it in synths and saying “we’re atmospheric.”  This, in turn, makes Aeba sound a lot more fierce rather than melancholic and Gothic, which can happen when bands have a focus on the synths.  You can tell Aeba draws their influence from early Gehenna or early Dimmu Borgir most likely.  They have some lighter cleaner guitar passages, probably attempting to get that “melancholic” feel in their music.  Like in “Dragonstorm,” they have this lead guitar section over it to create more of a somber feel in the song, but then they go into this blasting Black Metal section for a few seconds then back to the clean guitar.  It has this erratic feel to it.  Not all of their songs are like this, but there are moments on this album that have that feel.  This being the debut album they may not have matured fully into what they will be in the future.  This happens sometimes with new bands, especially nowadays because Black Metal has existed for such a long time.  People aren’t influenced by a handful of bands anymore, they could have heard hundreds of bands and they try to include a lot of those influences in their music, so more and more I hear debut albums that lack direction, and, again, Aeba is no exception to this seemingly new rule.  Maybe Aeba will find their niche, but bands are taking longer and longer to find their own direction in this world.

Overall is Aeba a must have?  Not really.  It’s not horrible, but “Im Schattenreich…” as a debut album is simply a typical Symphonic Black Metal album from my perspective, it’s no different than owning something like Ishtar.  If you’re looking for a band that might have future potential to become a solid force, then this is something you may want to watch.  It’s still pretty well done overall, but I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by Aeba either.  We’ll see what happens in their follow-up recordings.

No comments:

Post a Comment