IV / Appendixes: a compilation forming a bridge between albums, and a bridge between worlds

Aosoth, IV / Appendixes, Czech Republic, Cloven Hoof Brewing & Releasing, cassette Call 001 (limited edition) (2016)

I hadn’t heard of this trio before but the tough deep style did seem very familiar. Turns out all three members are or have been members of Antaeus, a couple of whose albums I’ve been acquainted with in the past. Talk about living in a very small world! This cassette release gathers up three short recordings Aosoth made after their fourth album way back in 2013 and forms a connection between that album and the next album to be released some time in the near future.

As might be expected of a band whose members are drawn from Antaeus, the music is not only hard-hitting, it’s also concise and has a very dark, bleak feel and a clear, crisp sound. All instruments can be heard clearly but the rapid-fire thudding percussion makes the strongest impression, more by its complex rhythms and constant changes than through its power. First track “Appendix A” is a robust and confident beast with a triumphant sound overall, varying rhythms and beats, and streamlined powerful riffing. The vocals are not great for this style of music – they need to be much stronger and deeper in my book – but like the rest of the music they are stern and forbidding, and do their job efficiently and minimally. “Appendix B” has more urgency and energy, and the half-spoken vocals stand out more from the music which not so much plays as pours out like hot molten lava cascades. Crisp and precise spoken-word recordings are well integrated into the music in the song’s first half while the second half features ever more deranged lead guitar scribble and dramatic martial drumming. A definite groove develops quite late in the song but disappears almost as quickly – there’s nearly always something new happening in the music if you pay close attention to it.

The music gets better as it goes: “Unbroken Dialogue” breaks with Aosoth’s BM style and heads into unstructured experimental dark ambient waters with found sound recordings, various ambient effects and oppressive background drone to create a malevolent soundtrack to an imaginary film of sinister occult and anti-Christian themes. Final track “Appendix D” returns to familiar blast-beat blackened death but somehow this music isn’t quite the same as it was before we listeners were treated to a glimpse of that yawning black Satanic abyss lurking deep within the Aosoth universe.

Individually and as a whole, the songs are very good – even though by their titles they form a definite group of related tracks and serve to bridge Aosoth’s last album and the next, they could just as well constitute a separate EP or mini-album. Some tracks boast very distinct melodies and riffs and all are different in their structures and details. The band’s austere approach to the music, in which every melody, every effect and sound serves a purpose, and nothing exists by accident, might be the most outstanding aspect of this recording. This extends even to the one experimental all-ambient track that appears on the recording.

If you, like me, aren’t familiar with Aosoth, you could hardly do worse than give this recording the time of day … or darkness, as it were, and from there either travel back to their previous recordings or wait for their next album.

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