Shedding an earned layer of stone-like skin by way of those unbound, who’d live free from Chronos’ linearity of time, offers a primordial ‘uncounted step’ in defiance of the Horae. A certain seance reconstructed earns access to an eternity in the plainest sense, a thieving hidden hand that’d compulsively pass on from the unwilling dead to the eager living, is easily re-breathed from this new body with infinitely more vivid lungs. To be born unconscious of the cyclical nature of history is no curse, in fact, as the spontaneously generated repetition of human nature brings with it a new audience for auld traditions. What compartmentalized resonance modern men can manage is a sour point for those who’d live too long, heir sagging bone-weak bodies rising only to celebrate the regeneration of the snake. Just as the burning light scours life upon the Earth today the finest art recollects the nuances of art into infinite placards, katadesmos left in spite of the certain future ahead. Catanzaro, Italy based quartet Bretus merit placement among the finest acts pulling in the most eternal traditions of doom metal with the arrival of their fourth full-length, ‘Aion Tetra’. A loosely themed treatment of cosmic horror by way of 70’s heavy rock influenced stoner/doom metal.
It would take about eight years for Bretus‘ founder Ghenes to secure the right vocalist in Suum/Land of Hate vocalist M. Veraldi and another four to land upon their debut full-length ‘In Inirica’ in 2012. All of that time spent putting in their dues has worn well upon the Italian band in the sense that each of their four records thus far offers their own distinct balance of heavy psychedelic rock influenced doom metal, a sort of crossing between the stoned austerity of the 70’s and the less precious heaviness of 80’s doom metal. For my own taste ‘…from the Twilight Zone’ (2017) was an important step forward for the band as it’d contain a hit of ‘Born To Lose’ moments within their usual crossing over between the psychedelic rock influenced side of (90’s) Trouble and the more doomed ambitions of The Obsessed. ‘Aion Tetra’ isn’t pure iteration of the previous work, though, as it appears they’ve focused in on tighter hooks without losing that heavier psychedelic doom atmosphere. Along the way the comparisons come somewhat naturally with big hits of 90’s Pentagram, a few tracks that remind of Penance‘s big shift on ‘Proving Ground’ and a dose of Pale Divine when the hooks start to roll out. There are parts of this record that recall the best of Demon Head‘s early traditional doom/rock sound as much as they pick up on the epic gloom of Orodruin but the majority of the release is remarkable for its easy shifts between pure doom metal and groove-seeking, sludged-out rock riffs.
Because I’d known vocalist Veraldi (aka Zagarus) from Suum‘s underrated epic doom metal full-length last year I’d anticipated a similar tone in Bretus; Instead his register is slightly evocative of Greg Diener (Pale Divine, Beezlefuzz) and a hint of Scott Reagers swagger circa ’95 or so; There is a more exact tonal match out there but as I’d listened with increasing frequency it became less important to suss out any deeper similarities. The swerving flight of Bretus is so slick that it never feels precarious to somersault between their performative ‘serious’ heavy metal jogs and swinging stoner-doom grooves. The whole of the listen offers a big riff-driven heavy metal album that never strays far from the wheelhouse of the best traditional doom metal has to offer. Is it generic, then? I don’t think it is faceless so much as it resembles the best points of the band’s main influences from the 80’s and early 90’s. ‘Aion Tetra’ benefits from deeper repeat listening due to this balance of bigger, standout moments (“Priests of Chaos”, “Mark of Evil”, “Cosmic Crow”) alongside the copious subtler nods n’ nuances that’d carry the life of the record a bit longer than usual. A song like “Deep Space Voodoo” might appear as a sort of ‘filler’ track at first but its place in the middle of the album is justified in reflection of the full listen. What was an ‘atmospheric moment’ at first would evolve into a key ‘sermon’ for the transition between Side A and Side B.
Production values are versatile enough in design to flit between epic doom, stoner grooves, and spaced-out psych without losing any of the important details to overly stylized sound. The mix sets the bass guitar fairly low but its presence soaks into the heady rip of the rhythm guitar tone in motion. I particularly liked the drum sound this time around as the performance isn’t so drastically different from the prior album yet Bretus appear more present and spacious at once within this bigger hall to swing and roar within. ‘Aion Tetra’ doesn’t suffer any obvious professional deficit as it manages to convey a very clean and powerful traditional doom metal presence on tape. Now that they’re four albums deep it’d be fair to start suggesting Bretus have reached a level of quality and musical personality worthy of much more regard, I know that ‘Aion Tetra’ took me over the edge towards admiration of their vision. Do they have more potential yet to be realized? Of course, I don’t doubt the next record could top ‘Aion Tetra’ but for now I’d give moderately high recommendation of it. For preview purposes I’d suggest starting with “Mark of Evil” or the opener “The Third Mystic Eye” if you want something immediately satisfying but don’t pass on until you’ve given “Priests of Chaos” a try too.
Spread sleep o’er the cosmic throne. 4.0/5.0
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