Thursday, August 1, 2013

... EIBON "II" (Album Review)

Eibon is a 5-piece act from France featuring long-experimented guys  involved in various death/doom acts throughout the last 20 years ( Drowning, Garden Of Silence, Astral Rising, Horrors of the Black Museum…). The band’s name is derived from H.P. Lovecraft’s horror universe, in which Eibon is a wizard, whose name also entitles a book. Their first release is dated back to 2006, a split with HANGMAN'S Chair, and since then they have worked out a mini-CD, one full-length album and another split.

Their sound is hard to label – it is located somewhere between aggressive sludge, atmospheric and heavy doom and uncompromising black metal. They combine raw, pounding riffs with rather  melodic parts and sparely inserted vocals, that aren’t forged ahead, but are rather used to underline the malicious atmosphere. Thereby, Eibon create something slow and painful, which is not only dragging around its heavy body, but from time to time also arises to head forward – leaving nothing but devastation.

The record “II” is their second album and was released in spring 2013 through throatruiner / aesthetic death records. It holds two tracks that merge into each other seamlessly, each of them a monstrous chunk of around 20 minutes playing time.
The first track is called “The Void Settlers” and starts with some acoustic feedback, thus setting up the following crusade with an almost awkwardly tense atmosphere. After some distorted spoken words, their music turns out to be something forceful. The fast pace at the beginning, which is led both by the crushing guitar riffs and the pounding drums, instantly reminds me of a crusade or a cruel hunt – straightforward, the aggressive wall of sound forges constantly ahead without compromise; resembling an army of violent, sweaty horsemen hunting down some beast.
Soon, this devastating atmosphere changes – Eibon seem to take a stop, almost sounding careful like some lurking wild animal. They linger on the desolate battlefield with slow and heavy guitars, the already familiar feedbacks, minimal, but neat drumming and harsh vocals, thrust out batch-wise. The listener senses menace in the air, which is intensified by a sample of dark summonings in French. Dark forces seem to gather again to continue their wild crusade. And indeed, after some minutes of slow and heavy doom sounds, drums rolling from one metre into another point out the direction – the army sets in motion again with dense riffs and fast drumming. Still, the vocals are only used exclusively in some parts to intensify the atmosphere, so that Eibons instrumental creation can be perceived in detail – which is something that should be done, as their compositions are of high quality and very multifaceted. The Void Settlers lives from this alternation between the fast, aggressive parts heading forward and the slow, atmospheric soundscapes giving the listener some time to breathe deeply. The track ends as the pace gets faster and faster, accompanied by raw vocals and high-tempo drumming expressing the agressiveness of harsh black metal, until everything explodes and dies away – merging into the second track.

It is called “Elements of Doom” and seems to attach right where the first track ended – you hear noise, like the rustle of the wind, and by melodic, but minimalistic guitar sound, a menacing soundscape is being composed. Once the listener gets used to the atmosphere, there is an outburst of heavy riffs and a slow, but yet forceful passage starts. It reminds me of funeral doom with an aggressive component, latently lurking in the background. This time, vocals are more present than in the first track, additionally adding to the weight of the atmosphere and slightly reminding me of some ESOTERIC songs. The heavy passage is not dragging on for too long, but fast passages with aggressive drumming and destructive riffs wrench the listener out of the atmospheric, leaden atmosphere. There are moments, where the guitars with their fast, repetitive riff-structure remind me of atmospheric black metal, yet the typical sludge impression never gets lost. Remarkable are also melodic guitar lines that stick out from time to time, leading the song to some cheerless point. The whole track comprises a desperate atmosphere, bearing the touch of searching something that can never be found. After around 16 minutes of stumbling through desolate landscapes, there is calm – the guitars fade away, decrease to fragile echoes, sounding from far away through the rain. One of the longest outroductions I have ever listened to follows – the calm, dripping sound of rain and atmospheric, ambient-like sounds create the soundtrack of something destroyed and forgotten. (And, for all those who are patient enough to attend to the song till its very end, there is kind of an unexpected, unconventional ending.)

It is not easy to describe my feelings for both songs separately, as Eibon create something very complete and self-contained with their album “II”. Both tracks convey a different atmosphere, yet they complement one another, as the second track seems to tell on the story the first track began. Worth to note is the variety of soundscapes you encounter while listening to this record. I like it, how Eibon do not bother about genres or artificial boundaries, but simply create filthy sounds without compromise – alternating between black metal-inspired aggressive parts and heavy, leaden doom passages, both clad in an atmospheric garb, which I have not seen in many sludge / doom acts this way so far.

Thus, I would recommend Eibon to everyone who is into atmospheric music and prefers variety over genre-typical sounds. “II”, which was recorded in a live setting by the way, is not only a high-quality piece of art considered from a technical and musical perspective, but also a hugely expressive record, living from that special atmosphere which is also captured in the cover art.

words by Melinda

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