NO CLEAN SINGING - Ain Soph Aur
Here and there, Ain Soph Sur is adorned with the trappings of ecclesiastical music — angelic choirs and near-operatic male vocals, monastic chants and Latin verses, an overarching aura of mysticism and stately grandeur. In these moments, you can almost smell the aroma of incense wafting from a swinging thurible, and I half-expected to hear the chords of a cathedral organ (actually, I think I do hear them on one song).But if the album sometimes brings to mind the musical accompaniment to a mass, it is a Luciferian hymnal, a celebration of the coming of the light-bringer. In Qabbalistic philosophy, “Ain Soph Aur” is an aspect of the Absolute — the limitless or eternal light; in this album, it burns like a conquering fire.Ain Soph Aur is the fifth album recorded by Hetroertzen, a band that began life in Chile and is now based in Sweden. Though the line-up has changed somewhat over time, Hetroertzen’s ranks still include the two earliest members, Frater D. and Åskväder.Despite the magnitude of their discography, I didn’t discover Hetroertzen until last May when I decided to explore (and write about) some of the releases by an underground Swedish label named Lamech Records. It has proven to be a fortunate discovery.
This new album is a segmented work. It begins and ends with minutes of ambient electronic haze and strange, ghostly sounds. Three other tracks are in a similar vein, ambient interludes that range in mood from the ominous to the ethereal but all of them conveying an air of mystery, untethered from the material world.Apart from the role these interludes play in Hetroertzen’s concept for the album, they provide necessary breathing room for the listener — because much of the rest of the album is a sonic conflagration, a chaotic firestorm of squalling, distorted tremolo riffs and breathtakingly fast, complex drumming.The melodies are mainly dissonant minor-key affairs, constructed to achieve an atmospheric effect — there aren’t many catchy hooks in these songs, just heavy doses of scathing vitriol, infernal ascending and descending scales, sombre processionals, and passages of dense, bleak murkiness. “Blood Royale” is a rampaging storm that breaks into an urgent gallop, with a shrill, trilling guitar piercing the heavy wall of sound and swarming like ants under the skin. “Endless Light” seethes with fury and pain, alternating between a musical representation of chaos and a solemn march — accompanied by the kind of high-pitched shrieking that sounds like someone being burned alive. “Spirit Eater” is another blasting fusillade, with riffs that combine low grinding and high-pitched insectile frenzy.But the songs aren’t all one thing. “Of Tomb and Thirst” is grim and predatory but features some rocking beats and riffs that bring to mind classic heavy metal. “The Luminous One” is ponderous and funereal, slow and stately, with a repeating melody that insinuates itself into the brain.“The Rose and The Cross” may be the fastest and most furious song on the album, but it’s also the catchiest, with d-beat rhythms and punk-influenced chords counterbalancing the scathing riff savagery and percussive bludgeoning — and near the end it drops into a wounded crawl, with the riffs hammering like a sledge against coffin nails.Before those final minutes of phantasmagorical electronic ambience that end the album, the first half of closing track “Piercing the Veil” is slow and staggering, anchored by deep, sludgy tones and accented by higher, plaintive guitar notes that wail like a distorted harmonica.
A lot of attention has been given to the sound of the album, layering it with textured effects and a contrasting mix of distortion and clarity, and the vocals are as varied as the changing moods of the instrumental music, ranging from those throaty impassioned cleans to reptilian growls, from baritone chants to hair-raising screams, and much else besides. There’s a lot to take in (including the poetry in the lyrics), and more than one listen is necessary to appreciate all the attention to detail.This isn’t the kind of music that’s going to have mass appeal. It’s a challenging listen in many respects, unrelentingly dramatic and primarily dissonant in its melodies, often harrowing and unsettling, more dedicated to immediacy in its occult atmospherics than to the creation of hooky riffs and memorable refrains. But both the vocal and the instrumental performances are really impressive, and there’s an undeniable power and passion that flows through the music like a river of fire.Ain Soph Sur will be released on December 15, 2014, by Lamech Records and Amor Fati Productions on CD and by Lamech Records and Terratvr Possessions on vinyl.
Guest appearances include vocals on “Endless Light” performed by Kark from Dødsengel and vocals on “Carrying the Forbidden Flame” performed by Edgar Kerval of Emme Ya. The artwork was created by Åskväder and Frater D.Two tracks from the album can be streamed below.
BLACK METAL REVIEWS - Ain Soph Aur
The double-vinyl edition of Hetroertzen’s expansive fifth full-length is massive in every way. Visually stunning, the records are contained within a sumptuous gatefold jacket that essentially doubles up as a hardback book. You see, a beautiful booklet is stapled inside with some great artwork, lyrics and insight from the band included.
Musically, ‘Ain Soph Aur’ is also huge. Big, brash and bold occult Black Metal, the album runs for over an hour and is blessed with magnificent musicianship and excellent compositions, all brought sharply into the foreground by a clean production job. Continuing on from the stellar collaboration that was ‘Capax Infiniti’, Kark from Dødsengel provides the voice on ‘Endless Light’.
The second record of the pair is particularly strong, especially the two eight-minute-plus hymns ‘The Luminous One’ and ‘Piercing The Veil’ that close Sides C and D, and overall it is impossible not to admire the dedication and discipline that has gone into creating an album (and product) of this scope.
And remember, this has been spawned from within the Black Metal underground. I wonder do mainstream artists or labels ever produce records or releases that look, feel and sound as impressive / professional as this one…
Considering what has been achieved here, it is arguably churlish of me to state that – from a personal perspective – a large quota of overly-theatrical vocals mar what would otherwise be a near-perfect album. They’re not clean vocals, per se (I’m giving Hetroertzen the benefit of the doubt and sparing them the swinging axe…), but they are unreasonably operatic, outlandish and sung. And annoying.
METAL-ARCHIVES - Ain Soph Aur
The Tomb Becomes a Womb
One of Lamech Records' esteemed roster, Hetroertzen enjoy a certain hermetical aura that many of their contemporaries often fail to invoke. The Chilean ensemble (now located in Sweden) sound akin to a rediscovered 90's Norse black metal mix tape, dust-caked and well worn, but exuding just enough energy to blow most modern, over-embellished black metal out of the water.
Weaving about in the wake left by 2010's 'Exaltation of Wisdom', their 2014 effort - making quite a few Album of the Year lists - retains the mesmerising style of its forbear. Utilising a grandiose atmosphere created by crisper production values that lend real clarity to the instrumentation, while retaining just enough harshness, 'Ain Soph Aur' is a sanguine declaration of Hetroertzen's patent devotion.
Attention is initially drawn to proceedings with the use of clean, operatic style vocals that underpin the band's ritualistic nuances. Complete with their melody-rich, trademark serpentine and arresting riffing, complemented by wholly competent percussion that is reminiscent of the legendary Hellhammer in parts, Hetroertzen boast a special ability to transport the listener back to the aforementioned glory days of their chosen musical genre, and to some of its most hair-raising aural endeavours.
Containing over an hour of material to absorb, twelve tracks interlaced with apt samples and ambient passages, this is one of the few modern records that captures the now overused notion of ritual. Hetroertzen's live exploits are a combination of theatre and musicianship, featuring costume changes and Black Mass activities in between song performances. Amidst a stage adorned with occult practise paraphernalia, this is a band in tune with black metal's indebtedness to spectacle and symbolism.
'Ain Soph Aur' is an ambitious release, adding variations in tempo and vocal style to Hetroertzen's now characteristic sound that was undoubtedly perfected on 'Exaltation of Wisdom'. There is even some genre crossover to be discovered, as the mid-tempo offering, "The Luminous One", is surprisingly evocative of death metal Egyptologists Nile. As expected for this release, the layout, design and artwork supplementing the band's brand of ritual noise is suitably esoteric, appearing and reading like an ancient occult tome.
Despite all efforts, 'Ain Soph Aur' fails to achieve the level of intoxication that made 'Exaltation of Wisdom' so thoroughly pronounced. Even with its improved production, almost cinematic scope and willingness to experiment, it is a subordinate record, but still far superior than most of what is marketed as black metal of late.
Score: 85 / 100
DEAF FOREVER - Ain Soph Aur
"The fact that the chilean-swedish black metal institution is a miracle of transformation, should be well-known among the scene. Their way from being a rather typical band to become one of the most sophisticated groups in the orthodox black metal genre is astonishing. Now, with their fifth record, the core trio stages itself even more theatrical, extravagant and hymnal. The epic compositions, furnished with dark pathos and compositional aswell as soundwise thoughtfulness, reveal hard work and an intense ambition to achieve more than any other band. Genius and megalomaniq collide ande explode. Masterful."
Score: 85 / 100
PLAGUE HAUS - Ain Soph Aur
Black Metal in many ways has reached yet another crossroads. There are those that abide by the strict guidelines set forth by the 90s and then there are those who have made sincere efforts to push forward. The latter group takes an immense risk, and that’s exactly what Sweden’s Hetroertzen have done with their latest work, “Ain Soph Aur.” To be quite honest I had not heard much from Hetroertzen until their previous album, “Exaltation of Wisdom” was reissued in 2011. A split with Norway’s fantastic Dødsengel followed a few short years after. Prior to all of this the band was residing in Chile and recording and releasing material as early as 2002. “Ain Soph Aur” marks the band’s second full length LP since their reemergence in Sweden and easily my most anticipated release of 2014.
A joint release by the impeccable Terratvr Possessions, Lamech Records, and Amor Fati, this album is without a doubt the most ambitious release in recent years. It’s been openly discussed and well publicized with much contention that fragments of the underground are opening up to a more esoteric approach to their art. The aforementioned labels and their artists seem to be wholeheartedly embracing the concept of transcending artistic limitation and manmade musical boundaries.
With the exception of the fourth track, “Endless Light,” which features vocals performed by Kark of the aforementioned Dødsengel Ain Soph Aur is masterfully orated by Frater D. (who also handles bass and drum duty for recordings). Frater’s vocals are performed almost entirely in an intoned, ritualistic voice with only a few slight deviations at times. There’s a seemingly deliberate level of clarity where one could very easily deduce that the twelve offerings praising the primordial state are meant to be taken as a collective of hymnals. Those unfamiliar with the vocal style I’m referring to should refer to the current work of Norway’s Mare. Guitarists Åskvader and Anubis weave together some absolutely haunting riffs. Their work showcased at the close of “Spirit Eater” is purely mind blowing. This is probably one of the best guitar duos that I’ve had the privilege of hearing in recent years. They work well together and you can see they share the same energy and ideas when it comes to songwriting. The album also features four instrumental pieces. The third, titled “Carrying the Forbidden Flame” was assembled and composed by none other than Edgar Kerval of Emme Ya himself. All four of these benefit the totality of the atmosphere well. If ever you could find yourself crushed under the weight of an atmosphere saturated with mysticism while still maintaining a heavy tone then “Ain Soph Aur” does just that.
The lyrical themes seem to deal with a range of subject matter ranging from vampiric concepts to various apocryphal texts. I do think this album allows for a bit of interpretation on the listener’s end and I strongly encourage people give it the time. Its clarity and presentation as well as its hour long length pretty much mandate that it be given some time. The band also handles their own artwork as well as the mixing of the album, which is done in their label’s own studio. Each art piece appropriately reflects the subject matter of the album and its collection of songs.
This album is essential. I waited quite some time to hear it and when I did I was not in the slightest bit disappointed. It not only met my own personal expectations, it exceeded them. I do think that for many people it might take a few attempts to get into as its presentation may come off as a bit eccentric to a lot of listeners. On all levels this album couldn’t possibly be more genuine and sincere. There’s no posturing or lying to be found. “Ain Soph Aur” does its title justice and comes very, very near to perfection.
Sacred is the legacy of the Serpent…
OBSCURO.CZ - Ain Soph Aur
Chilean mystics Hetroertzen among the most interesting names on the UG scene. Their career began in 2001 and at that time belonged to the heavy and deep, black underground, from which gradually the musicians made it to the forefront of the scene. The group is always presented with a strong black metal atmosphere, what course to show off recent albums in black metal exceeds the carton, generally Hetroertzen constitute something more than just an ordinary music. Their very occult-sounding black metal, full of mysticism and Satanism, sounds incredible, add your epic show, full of rituals and decoration of the stage, image tuning this month. The musicians have created their own dark world, full of surprises and dark feelings that attack the human imagination. The grouping consists of three main members and those are: Frater D - formerly guitars, drums and vocals now, Askvader - guitars, Sevekh - guitars. Musicians are complemented by a concert bassist and drummer. Already the last album, I found it as the pinnacle of creation of the Satan, a peer-reviewed before published work, I anxiously awaited the news and those expectations were high, but my appetite after a dose of somber music were more than satisfied.
Emit luce tuam et veritatem tuam
Lucis ferus eis requiem bona aeternam
Et lux perpetua eis Luce.
Te bleat hymn Pater. Rex gloriae.
Already the first song after ambient intro, Blood Royale my breath away and knocked to his knees, from which I have not stand on its feet after the end of the album bewilderment pacifier. Absolutely precise riffs that immediately began to seduce my mind, to the master Frater D runs the incredible vocal position, clean vocals, which moves in places to the limit operatic voice is breathtaking. So much emotion, darkness, hatred for all living things in his voice to the listener sits just frozen and understand. Overall, I have to candidate and commends the singer, because it shows what is indescribable, its best performance I've u Hetroertzen ever heard. Deep vocals, crazy, maniacal screams, clean vocals on the edge of the opera, all those positions used to preach his mystical texts and gets you there exactly where he wants. Definitely the strongest link of the album, I can not imagine there another person behind the microphone. Sure, someone might criticize his behavior, I personally liked the variety of voice more than just classic screech. Even I dare say that the clean vocals are impressive by making Hetroertzen than just classic raven Skřehot.
Another chapter to itself are stringed instruments. Guitarist Askvader bet better one riff after another, they have brilliant ideas to hypnotizes listeners correspond with vocals perfectly creates an atmosphere that makes the music of these musicians sound like a dark fog that surrounds you, drugging, hypnotizes, přimrazí to a chair. The group does not need keyboards that are slightly used in ambient compositions. Everything caters to the singing and guitar playing. The strongest riff is already mentioned Blood Royale, at the riffing me the willies, bewitching melodies. Sounding board is just right, that sound is clean enough not to let speak legibly all the tools, but also has some dirty trick, therefore, such an ideal. After each composition occurs ambient shorter track that prepares students to further charge the exquisite music. Individual tools are integrated carefully, so that they complement each other and create an impressive, dark mosaic of sounds in which we can always find new and new features. I would also like to point out that unless recording works very, very strong mystical aura that the audience literally creates images, on condition that the imagination, occur on the album too heavy elements, again I have to go back mostly to the song Blood Royale and then the song Endless Light. However, the above-mentioned elements does not destroy the nice atmosferičnost songs, interspersed with even more melodic side compositions. I would like highlighted in particular the song Procession of the Silver Fire, because here I got back vocal performance by Mr singer and powerful, dense atmosphere, the Latin texts which Frater D literally fanatically preaches, his voice are waking up too many emotions and feelings, to me out willies. Slow pace and slightly upozadněné guitars creating a mystical wall that envelops you. The Luminous One is also one of the points that I would like more closer. It is a song that starts with ambient, it is of course after a few minutes turns, slow drums and piano melodies mingle in a magnificent melodic track that stretches the entire song again, the crazy atmosphere and fanatical vocal singer will make his exit.
Sanctus Lucifer repraesentet eas
In lucem Sanctam.
Domine! De morte transire ad vitam.
Sanctus Sanctus Deus Sabaoth.
Hosanna in excelsis.
Lux alterna Luce eis.
What more to say about this musical perfection, however, goes beyond understanding what music? What has literally like a scene of dark, occult images, which are then projected audience in mind? I would like this one to experience theater and live because it has to leave the fans a great experience. I do not know what the board will have a role in the music scene, however, the band shifted to a higher level and I dare even say that Hetroertzen find this work a new and hungry fans. I created a dependency on the cd that I can not get rid of a truth or do not want to hear even one mistake here, even a hint of wool, of boredom. Even brilliantly processed container, which can be explored while listening to a disc, is nicely drawn. I have no words for what the band has created, without hesitation give full points, after first listening to me these lines were born in the head. I hope you enjoy my quality of this pack will keep on continue! Hail Lucifer!
Score: 10 / 10