Album Title: Archaeaeon
This is the first full-length album from Mitochondrion, a Canadian band playing technical black/death metal.
The sound on Archaeaeon is slightly murky, with a ton of low-end (enhanced by the ultra-low lead vocals) and thundering guitars and bass. A second, black-metal style vocalist adds variety to the atmosphere, as does the varied, nimble drumming. The latter lends a great deal of power to the blasting parts, making them a lot more interesting than those of most bands.
Mitochondrion's riffing and overall sound are utterly extreme -- this record sounds a bit like "Altars of Madness" with somebody playing early Cryptopsy over the top of it! The sheer sonic assault barely lets up, burying the listener under a mountain of chaotic heaviness. That said, the individual songs are quite coherent, and there's a lot of melody to be found, for those willing to listen closely. For example, "...Into the Pit of Babel" features acoustic guitar and some great back-and-forth between the two vocalists. "Wraithlike" is an epic, with fast and mid-paced parts that sandwich a couple of wonderful doom sections in the middle. The instrumental work during the latter half is exceptional. "137 (Death's Hendecaratia)" is even longer, at nearly fourteen minutes, and represents Mitochondrion at its doomiest. The crushing weight of this song creates an atmosphere of total oppression, like gathering thunder or the depths of some extraterrestrial ocean. The closing few minutes are a bit too industrial for my taste, though.
There are straightforward songs as well: "Agonizing (In the Shadow of the Hammerblow)" is one of my favorites, with some bombastic lead work and aggressive pick-slide abuse. "Infernal Weapons Summons" is another great example of Mitochondrion's attack. The drumming here seems to be in three places at once, and the vocals are completely insane! The attention to songwriting and atmosphere on this album is top-notch, and makes each song quite memorable.
My only complaint is that there's almost too much here -- at over an hour, this is a substantial slab of chaos, one that's a bit much to take all in one bite. In fact, "Archaeaeon" could have easily been split into two albums! That makes it a hell of a deal for those into this kind of metal. Fans of insane Canadian bands like Revenge, Axis of Advance, and Warmarch should get this record. Recommended.
Standout Tracks: "Agonizing (In the Shadow of the Hammerblow)", "Infernal Weapons Summons", "Wraithlike"