Metal has some unhealthy obsession with H.P. Lovecraft. The guy was ahead of his time, and his short stories and works of horror-fiction were interesting in how deranged and weird they were. The fantastical mythos that he created inspired many other authors as well, but I guess the blurring of mediums with the help of the internet has only increased his popularity.
Sulphur Aeon is the current circlejerk of the metal community. I've heard quite a few opinions about the German act's debut Swallowed By The Ocean's Tide - almost all of them positive. I've also heard the album being labeled ridiculous things like "Cthulhu-worshiping melodic technical blackened transcendental old-school death metal," which is retarded, but I digress. The album is pretty solid.
Melodic death metal is definitely the first subgenre to point to here. Swallowed By The Ocean's Tide doesn't have the annoying NWOBHM-isms of the Gothenburg scene, but it is still more melodic than most old school or blackened death metal. Solid examples of this sound are found all throughout Swallowed By The Ocean's Tide: "Where Black Ships Sail" with its melodic main riff, the solo and tremolo riffing on "Inexorable Spirits," and the second half of "Those Who Dwell In Stellar Void." However with all the double-bass patterns and dominant tremolo melodies, I can kind of see why some would label it blackened death metal.
Genre-fucking aside, Swallowed By The Ocean's Tide is chock-full of memorable riffs. The melodic element really adds some depth to them, and the tracks don't suffer from a lack of aggression because of it. M.'s vocalwork populates a generally monotonous range, but it only adds to the Lovecraftian atmosphere. It's the structuring of the tracks that really makes this a standout release. There are no frustrating verse-chorus-verse song formats or any serious redundancies on Swallowed By The Ocean's Tide. The varied structures eventually coalesce to create a particular atmosphere on each track. This creates makes for an engaging listen that pulls the listener in with the ebb of the sea.
However the production does take away some of Swallowed By The Ocean's Tide's bite. The tight snare while fitting is arguably the most noticeable flaw (or at least unlikable aspect) in the sound of the album. Otherwise drumrolls and fills by D. crash on the listeners ears like tidal waves, and the bass...well, it's not really present. T. must have forgotten to have it mixed higher up. His guitarwork shines though it could use some 'oomph' on the low-end, or perhaps a more menacing tone.
While not wholly original thematically or musically, Swallowed By The Ocean's Tide is still a rewarding listen that is only held back by a wimpy production and weak mixing job. Oh and if you didn't notice, the band members' names collectively spell DMT. That's pretty awesome. Definitely worth keeping your eyes on these guys.
7.75 out of 10
1. Cthulhu Rites
3. Inexorable Spirits
4. The Devil's Gorge
5. Where Black Ships Sail
6. Swallowed By The Ocean's Tide
8. From The Stars To The Sea
9. Those Who Dwell In Stellar Void
10. Beneath. Below. Beyond. Above
Listen // Buy