I have often commented that Finland is really producing the best metal in the world right now. Of course, when I say that I’m usually associating with bands like Moonsorrow, Finntroll or Amorphis, but apparently I’ve been leaving out a band from that whole list because they’re on a small label: Black Sun Aeon. Right now I’m going to add Black Sun Aeon to the pantheon of excellent metal coming from Finland, but unlike those other bands, they’re not wandering on the folk/viking side of things, but instead they’re doing more old-fashioned mid-paced death, intermingled with a doomy goth element that I haven’t heard done well for a long time.
For the band’s debut CD (there was apparently a demo from last year, but it wasn’t a full-length), Black Sun Aeon has done an impressive job of piecing together a compelling record. Apparently a concept album, it takes place in 8 chapters (with one bonus track), and each is named as “A Song For…” These tracks appear to entail a man losing a war with himself and his surroundings and turning towards the path of evil, in the end, darkness walks beside him. The music matches this concept perfectly. It is neither hyper-technical nor simplistic and minimalistic (like a lot of doom metal), but instead the perfect blend of melody and heavy groove that are necessary for the project.
In a lot of ways this record reminds me of Elegy era Amorphis sort of mixed with Moonspell. That is, the heaviness and the strong melody, mixed with good mid-paced/slower death metal. The vocalist doesn’t have that same kind of tone, but he doesn’t have a particularly low voice either when he’s singing, which he does a fair amount of. His voice is unique and takes some getting used to, but I think his clean vocals are well placed and they are slow and mourning, perfectly fitting for the feel and style of the record.
Darkness Walks Beside Me clocks in at about 44 minutes, which I think is about the perfect length for a record these days (and this one would be great on vinyl). Everything about this record is convincing for me, even if the album isn’t overcome with ground-breaking originality. The musicianship is very solid, the songwriting good and it brings the listener to it over and over because of the quality contained within. I’ve really enjoyed it and if you’re a fan of Katatonia, Moonspell, Amorphis, Opeth and bands of this nature, you’ll probably really dig it as well.