Black Sun Aeon // Blacklight Deliverance
Rating: 4.0/5.0 —Three releases a year? Never fear.
Label: Cyclone Empire Records
Websites: blacksunaeon.com | myspace.com/aeonoftheblacksun
Release Dates: Out now!
Tuomas Saukkonen is clearly a man concerned with the dangers of idle hands. To stave them off, he’s forever toiling in various musical projects (Before the Dawn, Dawn of Solace, RoutaSielu) and his highly underrated Black Sun Aeon project. While primarily known for his work in the excellent Before the Dawn, Tuomas has always used this project to explore more morose, gothic-tinged doomscapes while taking cues from fellow countrymen Insomnium and especially Rapture. As with the previous two Black Sun Aeon releases, Blacklight Deliverance is a compelling mix of death, doom and goth, with hauntingly beautiful melodies, ample heaviness and razor-sharp songwriting. It doesn’t break any new ground and at times veers very close to the aforementioned influences, but its a highly enjoyable journey nonetheless and has a few moments of absolute brilliance. It’s also a much more tightly focused work than 2010’s double album Routa and as a result, feels more immediate and accessible.
Opening with “Brothers,” long time listeners of Before the Dawn will immediately recognize Tuomas’s familiar riffing style and excellent sense of melody. His death rasps are also familiar and as good as ever. Balancing brutal with beautiful is something he’s always excelled at and this song is yet another testament. It feels thick and heavy but rises into a melodic, memorable chorus as the swelling keys and chanting female vocals lend an epic mood to the proceedings. Making things all the better are the somber and elegant acoustic interludes interspersed through the song. It’s a winner. Things get even better with “Solitude,” which is one of the best songs Tuomas has ever penned. Bringing in the vocal talents of Janica Lonn (Lunar Path, ex-Nocturnal) and Mikko Heikkila (ex-Sinamore, Crowned With Black, RoutaSielu), he weaves a magnificently bleak goth/doom tale with excellent duets and powerfully melodic, doomy fret-work. It manages to be both depressive and wildly catchy as it revels in its downbeat Finnishness (in case you’ve been living under a rock outside of Finland, a lot of their national musical output is bleak and melancholy).
The other standout is “Oblivion,” which also utilizes the vocals of Janica and Mikko to maximum effect and wrings every ounce of emotion from them. It has a chorus that will move into your head and raise a family and I’ve felt an irresistable need to spin it over and over again for weeks. The rest of Blacklight Deliverance is up to snuff, with the heavier selections (“Sheoul,” “Horizon”) providing a good balance to the softer moments (“Nightfall”). Overall, it’s another impressive example of Tuomas’s songcraft and creative genius and I don’t know how he’s able to write so much quality music in so short a time frame.
Besides the excellently done vocals, one of the big reasons Blacklight is so effective is the heaviness of the guitar. Even while exploring softer, doomier styles, the guitar tone is wickedly heavy in the vein of old Entombed and Dismember. When paired with the delicate vocals of Janica and the forlorn voice of Mikko, the effect is impressive. Add in the death growls for emphasis and its a big sound indeed (the black metal influences present on Routa are largely gone). When he’s not throwing down jackhammer riffs or Sabbath-inspired dirges, Tuomas crafts some great melodies (for example, 3:37 of “Horizon”) that any fan of Rapture will love.
There isn’t much here to complain or nitpick about but if forced, it’s a fairly short album (seven tracks) and at times, run too close to his work with Before the Dawn. Since I love them as well, that’s a pretty minor gripe. The songs are great, the sound is excellent and the mood is wintry and despairing. What more can you ask from a Finnish band? Free pickled herring and long drinks?
Blacklight Deliverance cements the fact that Tuomas is the MAN. Between this and the excellent Deathstar Rising album he churned out earlier this year, he’s risen several ranks in Steel Druhm’s Pantheon of Metallic Respect. Yet another great album to hoard for those dark wintry nights. Buy it, you idle handed bastards!