AEVITERNE – The Ailing Facade (2022)REVIEW

Wherein the introspection of the nihilistic existentialist becomes a hemlock-tipped blade to cuddle and its hilt a knob to whisper and croon into while entranced by the lightly bloodied rocking motion of the traumatic mind. There’ll be no reprieve from the incessant access to the chaotic thoughts and spiritual dissonances of the greater species that plagues the most starving minds of today within ‘The Ailing Facade‘, an experimental death metal album that instead persuades the listener to address the hopeless churn of modern humanism without a tick of escapist idealism. The New York-based quartet responsible, Aeviterne, do however provide an incredible experience to ease the inevitably goring pangs of futility and subsequent wilting into purposelessness by way of lofty, post-punk whirled death-magick and deeply buried industrial scalded rhythms — tunneling their smoke-shrouded thrill right to the cortex. The sleepless conscious mind, numbed by the unthinkable and malnourished for the sake of survival, ought plunge right into these ~51 minutes and embrace what inventive illustrations of dread are strongly lit inside as these fellowes offer wraith-like guidance toward acceptance of our collective chaotic absurdism. There is some energizing, ‘freeing’ yet unnatural bliss to behold within this sermon of self-actualized meaninglessness.

When an underappreciated visionary extreme metal act ceases, or simply lies dormant, for an extended period of time I tend to rationalize the resulting emptiness — A dry well of inspiration, busy lives lived by practical intelligent people, or the usual excess and depress artists are prone to endure in private alongside everyone else. Though I’ll admit few voids began to glare hotter this last decade than the dry-socket bursting loss of post-hardcore/post-punk influenced technical ‘dissonant’ death metal band Flourishing beyond their brilliant debut ‘The Sum of All Fossils‘ and its bookending by way of a couple of truly wild EPs. Maybe it was the internet avant-metal bubble I’d been in at the time but they’d been a key outlier for those of us who resonate with the otherworldly, a band most often lumped into the short list of of New York-based experimental death metal rabidity (see: Imperial Triumphant, Pyrrhon) upcoming beyond the growing popularity of Ulcerate and Portal in the late 2000’s and early 2010s. Theirs was a ghost in a machine of its own design then and it’d be fair to say that same spirit manifested sempiternal when two thirds of said band, chiefly Garrett Bussanick, who’d joined Tombs for ‘Savage Gold‘ before teaming with Flourishing bassist Eric Rizk circa 2015, gave rise to Aeviterne.

Former Castevet drummer Ian Jacyszyn was on board by the time their debut EP/7″ (‘Sireless‘, 2018) emerged and beyond that point a second guitarist Samuel Smith (Artificial Brain, Luminous Vault) was added. I’d not ignored that EP in the slightest but assumed it was a teaser for an album to follow soon after and only upon revisiting it during the resulting ~four year wait did I realize how much potential there was for Aeviterne to both build upon the general conceptual guidance of Flourishing but also become something else entirely. Of course at this point it should be obvious that I intend to argue that this has more-or-less happened with the release of ‘The Ailing Facade‘ while keeping in mind that Bussanick still works in deeper shades of subtlety, finding even more slick and skull-filling atmospheric values to warm over the chaos of his work a decade prior. A worthy maturation and progression manifests in proportionate magnitude in this sense, and it seems that this formation is all the more focused, functional and funded.

“Denature” offers a cold and wringing death of the flesh so that the mind might consume and conquer the task at hand. As a first impression I’d felt that it offers the necessary rhythmic Rosetta stone for the ‘The Ailing Facade‘ experience but doesn’t fully suggest the most exciting movements, a meandering but engaged narrative structure, are yet to come. “Stilled the Hollows’ Sway” is the quick turnabout, a set of machine-like gears powering the greyed and wired flesh of post-punk/industrial within two major movements. This should read to most keen ears as some sort of modern take on post-death metal rather than plainest dissonant death modulations and the effect is deliriously atmospheric, almost Deathspell Omega-esque due to the throat level, atypical growling of the vocalist. Upon first listen it’d been the ice-breaker and the piece to call me back several times just to bask in the rhythmic zoning of its first half.

It weren’t hyperbole on my part in suggesting that an energizing, ‘freeing’ yet unnatural joy exists within the dissolution of the spirit Aeviterne cast upon us herein and the major evidentiary findings to support this phenomenon comes first via “Penitent”, a ghastly veil lifted by ringing cordage, skittering rhythms, and eventually a sort of psychedelic-yet-menacing wash of tone which is far more tempered than those of labelmates Suffering Hour but produces a similarly surrealistic effect. Hitting the ~4:16 minute mark on this song reveals first the distraught yet sentimental dread of the band’s major voice but, if you’ll stretch the ear a bit wider in response, the use of electronic harshness to bolster this moment is one of many extra details within that make the listening experience atypical and something continually redeeming upon revisit. Pairing the dissolve of “Penitent” with the immediately cycling bruise of “The Reeking Suns” represents my favorite part of the album to start, getting the broader picture of why this isn’t just another avant-death metal album as its gloom-ridden movement came by way of songs with notable hooks or techniques that are sonically satisfying rather than the usual non-lateral dissociative angling. In fact “The Reeking Suns” has its own frankly very simple rhythmic glow to it, featuring a chord progression most could pick up in a moment yet one well worth repeating in the context of Side A‘s despondent, staring-at-the-wall consciousness.

We’re stuck in the gears and shocked to death within “The Gaunt Sky” and finding the post-Immolation side of the band perking up just as much as their non-metal influences for a colder, plodding and nigh tribal start to Side B. These songs don’t necessarily grip me as much as the first half of the record but I did appreciate the drum sound as it featured in these longer instrumental sections and use of beat-focused repetition — A natural result for an album co-engineered by Jacyzyn and Colin Marston, finding a good balance of organic render and bigger, bleaker sounds. With that said the instrumental title track is entirely pointless here for my own taste, even though I could argue for its place in the sound and theme of the full listen it just isn’t necessarily placed as a seven minute piece which precedes a nigh ten minute closer which offers much of the same texture and pacing. It really is that final piece, “Dream in Lies”, that saves the second half of the experience for my taste as it acts as the final summary, a pensive exit which drones on in an satisfying way before the record loops back to its beginning.

The listening experience isn’t as taxing as expected, generally presenting a smooth dynamic presence which works well both as a headphone spin focused on detail and a four+ speaker setup where the higher end and well-hidden electro/harmonic subtleties are only very slightly outshined by the rhythm section’s hulk. The separation between each half of ‘The Ailing Facade‘ left me wanting more of the first four songs yet without the extended time spent within each half I’d have likely not appreciated the strong contrast available. In plainest terms, there is a lot more to glean from time spent with Aeviterne than simply grouping them into a bin with other experimental death metal bands, however subtle, and I’ve found this debut an entirely worthy challenge and a fine record to sink into distress with. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (83/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:The Ailing Facade
LABEL(S):Profound Lore Records
RELEASE DATE:March 18th, 2022

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