Sulphur Aeon - Gateway to the Antisphere  01AMG’s Law of Diminishing Recordings is a cruel mistress. She delivers a cold left hook to the smiling face of over-optimism, reminding us time and time again that in no way does a great record necessitate a great follow-up. Through this we learn the value of cautious optimism, reasonable expectations, and keeping a cool head when looking forward to an upcoming release. In most cases, that’s how I approach new music from a band I’m already excited about. Sulphur Aeon releasing a new record is decidedly not “most cases,” and I was beyond excited when Gateway to the Antisphere was announced. After many spins of this 51 minute beast, my excitement disappeared.

…Only to be replaced with absolute fucking exhilaration. The band’s 2013 full-length debut Swallowed by the Ocean’s Tide stood head-and-shoulders above the vast majority of metal released that year with a crushing sound that brought together the best qualities of Behemoth, early Hypocrisy, Immolation, and orthodox black metal (Watain, Ascension) for good measure. They haven’t changed their sound in 2015, and still bring melodies on par with Hypocrisy’s best and punishing riffs that crush with brute force, writhe with sinister slithering tremolo patterns, and combine to form a sound incorporating the best material of those three bands above. If Demigod-onward Behemoth was better at death metal yet still incorporated quality black metal, their rhythm guitars would sound a good bit like Sulphur Aeon.

It’s tough to pick one or two songs from Gateway to the Antisphere as standouts, as each of the eleven songs is nigh-on masterful. “He Is the Gate” is monstrous throughout, but the three minute mark is just ridiculous, and I’m almost inclined to call T.’s guitar interplay here beautiful. My only reservation is the decidedly un-metal connotations of that word, as I’d be selling Sulphur Aeon short if I said these melodies aren’t pummeling in addition to being affective. “Into the Courts of Azathoth” has all of the crushing majesty one would expect from a song about the highest god in the Cthulu mythos, and a recurring reverb-drenched melody is bolstered by varied and consistently great rhythm guitar parts being played underneath it. It’s a simple touch, but a classic case of little things making big differences.

Sulphur Aeon - Gateway to the Antisphere  02

For a band releasing their sophomore record, Sulphur Aeon are incredibly advanced and mature songwriters and performers. D.’s drums are simply phenomenal, and they make the already great riffs from T. truly shine, with the dense churning in unison of drums and guitar at the end of “Devotion to the Cosmic Chaos” being a prime example among a myriad others. The vocals of M. are a huge asset and his powerful straight-from-the-diaphragm growling and shrieking is a touch more varied than on the excellent debut, adding more points of interest to the already captivating music. His vocals are so convincing that the screams of “Yog-Sothoth!” in “He Is the Gate” come across awesome instead of silly, and I’d wager that’s an accomplishment. I’ve mentioned T.’s guitars already, but these riffs and melodies are top-tier stuff that death metal bands should aspire to, and the consistent excellence on display here is staggering. I rip on intro and outro tracks all the time here, but Sulphur Aeon managed to craft one of each that are both beneficial to the overall experience and enjoyable a la carte.

I had high expectations for Gateway to the Antisphere, but Sulphur Aeon managed to exceed them in an effort even stronger than their outstanding debut. The master is a bit squashed, but as much as I cherish high DR scores, the production here suits Sulphur Aeon’s music to a tee, approximating what being crushed under the weighty pressure of the deepest chasms of the ocean would sound like run through a death metal filter. Gateway to the Antisphere is a brilliant record that has set the already high bar for 2015 a little bit higher. Any record that can be as simultaneously emotional, melodic, punishing, and memorable as this deserves everyone’s attention, and it will take something truly monumental to knock this out of the top spot of 2015.


Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3 CBR
Label: Van Records
Website: Facebook.com/SulphurAeon
Release Dates: EU: 2015.04.20 | NA: 04.28.2015

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  • AndySynn

    I reviewed the debut and LOVED it. So glad this one is awesome.

    • Yours and Dave’s were the two reviews that prompted me to actually invest time with this one. Kudos!

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        Dave’s review made me check out the first one too!

  • Worldeater

    … and this beast of a record is only €7 at bandcamp, can´t wait to load the flac files onto my player… life is good!

  • DrChocolate

    Boom. So excited for this release. I adored SbtOT, but I still feel that the production was a touch too murky, too dense. I get the atmosphere aspect, but it got in the way for me. This however – still murky and dense but there’s a bit more breath and air in it and I love it. Who knew all I ever wanted was the sound of Trey Azagthoth mating with a Kraken.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      I can’t fault the production here at all, really. It’s one of those things I couldn’t imagine sounding any other way. Ace description with the Azagthoth bit, if this found its way into brick and mortar stores I’d like to see that on the sticker!

      • DrChocolate

        Word, a few times through and this might be one of my more favorite production jobs of the year. It fits the music and the themes perfectly – just a more finely tuned, matured finish then Swallowed had. Spot on review by the way.

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          Thank you! I’d call the entire album an improved Swallowed, as much as I enjoyed the debut.

  • Umulamahri

    Great album, totally aggree with the review! This is another great example of how to make an awesome death metal album full of dark, intense atmosphere in 2015.

  • Refined-Iron Cranium

    DUDE THIS ALBUM IS BLOODY PHENOMENAL!
    Funny story, I was searching through Bandcamp earlier this week at uni and put this album on when I was working on a paper and I had to stop typing because I was just mesmerised by this music. This stuff is fucking A, even DR6 production works damn well for the music.

    • Matt Dobson

      THE BAND ARE BLOODY PHENOMENAL!! :)

      These guys have been on constant rotation for a few weeks now. Really good stuff.

  • Lasse Momme

    This is pretty fucking cool record.

  • El_Cuervo

    I’m really tempted to buy this on vinyl, and not even for the music. That art is awesome!

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Kind of makes me wish I was into the whole vinyl thing for that very reason. It used to be Classical LPs had the best album art (albeit, mostly of the dead-white-guy variety), but Metal albums now seem to have mounted that throne.

      I wasn’t even aware of metalbandart-dot-com until I googled it just now.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    That first paragraph scared the everloving fuck out of me!

    • De2013

      Man, AMG’s law could be an universal law! If I would replace in the first four sentences the words ‘record’ & ‘recordings’ with ‘date’ & ‘dates’ respectively and ‘band’ with ‘girl’ it would be applicable to my situation too!

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Let’s just hope Diabolus doesn’t feel the wrath of AMG for omitting the trademark symbol from the aforementioned law. Ah, but AMG is hardly around these days. I’m sure he’s not reading this.

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          Welp, now I’m probably going to get hit with the mandatory 3 metalcore album penalty for accidental copyright infringement. The neon is on your hands, sir!

          • Monsterth Goatom

            Possibly he’ll just strap you to a chair and make you watch Bedtime for Bonzo repeatedly. As Stephen’s mother said, “O Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on him! Save him from hell, O Divine Sacred Heart!”

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            Don’t feed HR with ideas!

          • I vote that Diabolus now has to review the new Nightwish record. (insert evil pretentious black metal laughter)

          • Grymm

            Or the next Savn record. ;)

          • AMG loves Nightwish far too much to ever farm them out.

  • Tom Hardy

    I don’t care for any DM-Behemoth. I don’t care for post-The Fourth Dimension Hypocrisy. And I don’t care for post-Unholy Cunt Immolation. Going by that, reading the Immolation reference, I’ll admit, certainly piqued my interest. I listened to Devotion To The Cosmic Chaos, Titans and Diluvial Ascension. I don’t hear pre or post suck Immolation influences. The band do appear to channel a lot of DM-Behemoth, something I execrate. They were simply unmemorable. Question – what are the best tracks on the album? Cos if those are it, I’m going to skip this one fortunately or unfortunately.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      You misplaced the L in “cult” with an “N”, but my God does that make a great name for my new death metal band.

      • Tom Hardy

        Crikey, I didn’t see that happening. It’s yours good sir. What kind of new death metal band are you part of?

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          One in the early embryonic stages at the moment! Trying for the slower kind, Frost/Asphyx sorta deal with second wave Norwegian black metal influences in there. Not the most original thing in the world but it’s fun trying to write stuff again.

  • El Lado Oscuro

    Prolly also best cover

  • De2013

    Great review. It got me very eager to listen to the embedded song. And that rocks!

    And a very nice touch what you did with the reference to AMG’s Law of Diminishing Recordings and then the full stop at the end of the first paragraph with “my excitement disappeared.” I was like WTF where is this review going??? Will it rate lower than Amaranthe’s?

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Thanks! I was excited to hear this in full, and AMGLoDR made me pretty nervous before hitting play. Decided to be generous and share that feeling with everyone!

      • De2013

        And much appreciated!

  • Kreegwaldo

    I am absolutely unimpressed. I read this article and it seems to tick off all the boxes for something I’d love, coupled with the 4.5/5 and I thought – cannot wait!

    Then I listened to the embedded song and…didn’t even realize it had ended several minutes prior. I didn’t even care listening to it – it was boring and unmemorable.

    So then I thought – well maybe this song is the only one available to link right now and the older album is supposed to awesome, I’ll listen to that! It bored me to tears, the production is shit ( everything sounds muffled ) and again – not a single song is memorable. Nothing made me stop and go – whoa! Nothing made me want to listen to any of the songs again but I tried, thinking I must be missing something. It was agonizing.

    The artwork is cool though I guess!

    • FutureBeyondSatan

      It bored me, too. I was thinking it was a generic impersonation of Dethklok. Metal for fish!

      • DrChocolate

        I love this band but I can’t help but giggle a little when I think how close they are to being some alternate-serious-Dethklok.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Nothing is for everyone musically, but good on you for putting in that much effort to try to enjoy a band that left zero impression on you! The artwork is indeed awesome, as was the first album’s cover in my opinion.

    • Tentacles

      I am finding the same thing…because it’s drenched in Cthulu Mythos I want to love it, but it’s just…meh. Slick enough, but not particularly interesting. Crisper production would definitely have helped.

  • Alexandre Barata

    Sometimes I read some critics’ lines and they only worry about the objectivity that is the DR score. I mean, early Darkthrone Black Metal albums had scores around 11-12 and they sounded very primitive. Most good/great DM albums have DR scores of 5-7, as that can achieve the sound we cherish for that style. Personaly, I love this album, and I think its production is great, Great review!

    • I have seen this mentioned on Metal-Fi, the thing with the 2nd wave style of production was that it was intentionally low-fi, which is very different to the production this days that crush dynamics via loudification making even high polished productions sound muddy and lifeless. Those early low-fi productions would lose all that charming crunch and instead be very fatiguing and uninteresting.

      • Alexandre Barata

        I’m not an expert on production/masterings, but I was curious about the DR values on some albums I own, so I run the meter. Burzum’s debut also has a score of 11 and the last one of Blut Aus Nord has a score of 6. It’s funny because when you listen to both albums you can’t feel the better dynamics on the Burzum’s one, as it is indeed low-fi. Well, albums production is really not my thing, it seems :P ahahah

        • Actually the last BaN record was DR9 and sounds fantastic. As H3 mentioned, there is difference between lo-fi and then just clean production with squashed dynamics, e.g. Fallujah, the first Sulphur record.

          • Alexandre Barata

            True, was analysing a 320kbps folder instead of the FLAC one :) Yeah I’m still assimilating and processing information, up to some months ago I never got any interest in production, only that sometimes it sounded good and others not so much :)

          • Check out the Be’lakor vinyl master on Bandcamp and then compare that to the CD. Let me know what you think!

            EDIT: Sorry for the thread crapping Diabolus!

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            Production threads are great though! Are you guys reviewing this? Interested in hearing the M-Fi take on the improved audio quality over the debut.

          • Hmmm, let me ask if he is still going to take this one.

          • Alexandre Barata

            Eh it’s almost from day to night! The cd is almost inaudible with so much “noise”. Thanks for the insights :) And yeah, sorry for semi-kidnapping the thread Diabolus!
            Anyway, have been banging my head with this album, great stuff!

        • It also depends largely in your setup. Most common speakers and headphones won’t even have the ability to produce the highs and lows to notice any difference in all but only the most extreme cases. And even then, what you think you can notice it could very well be placebo effect.

        • Paul Doran

          What meter do you use? Thanks!

          • Alexandre Barata

            TT DR meter offline 1.4 ;) It’s a free meter, but you can also get the paid version, that has some more utilities. For my amateurish interests the offline is pretty usefull though

          • Paul Doran

            awesome thanks man!

  • Óðhinn

    Great review. Thanks Diabolous in Muzaka. This album is fantastic.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      I aim to please!

  • OzanCan

    Cthulhu Mythos in metal almost always works out for the best!!!

    • I agree, and I pitch around here every chance I get that more people need to hear Tekeli-li by the Great Old Ones as it was one of my favorites of last year.

  • peter panda

    absolutely glowing review, yet 4.5/5? at least explain why you held back that last half point

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      I’m half Frisian and therefore really stingy.

      An actual reason is that personally (I’m absolutely not speaking for anyone else here at AMG) a 5/5 is nearly impossible to come by. Reign in Blood is my benchmark for a 5/5, and if an album gives me the same kind of elation (to use AMG’s term) as that, then it would be a 5. This was close, but not quite, hence the 4.5. Hopefully that explains it!

  • Admittedly a very interesting band; I bought the first album immediately after hearing a sample track. Nonetheless, something in the production has made it difficult to appreciate the music as much as I had hoped. It has a sort of underwater feel, a bit of a recorded-in-a-pillowcase vibe. While not exactly comparable, it reminds me of the latest Fleshgod Apocalypse record in that the guitars, drums, what have you are sort of muffled out by whatever is happening with the production ( obviously over the top with orchestral overtures on that one ).

  • Gonzalo Salazar

    Spheres are so 2014. Antispheres are way better.

    • Martijn Brugman

      Indeed, I think have have now observed the 2015 watershed concerning spheres

  • Requiem

    ‘the best qualities of Behemoth, early Hypocrisy, Immolation, and orthodox black metal (Watain, Ascension) for good measure.’
    Fuck me, scarcely listened to this and I’m already sold m/

  • JeremyZero

    It’s getting to the point that I can reliably find my new favourite band by coming to AMG, finding the album with the best recent review (and coolest cover usually) and listen to it. That’s something.

  • Matthew

    Agree agree agree, such a good album!

  • El Duderino

    Despite the fact, that this album just isn’t doing anything for me – What is wrong with this one cymbel panned to the left?
    It sounds like: HUISHH HUISHH
    Too annoying for me to listen to.

  • Karmazov

    This album is amazing! It’s definitely one of my favorite releases of the year thus far. The cover artwork is freaking awesome as all. What’s not to like about Cthulhu metal?

  • swthate

    I have not had the pleasure of listening to Sulpher Aeon’s first album; indeed, I haven’t even heard of them before reading this review a few days ago!

    And I must say… I’m legitimately surprised at how this album has looped more and more as the week has gone on. Fantastic.

    Too bad my “friends” aren’t into good death metal, otherwise I would say this is the perfect soundtrack to our HP Lovecraft themed board game nights!

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Great review…
    Only just getting around to checking this out…woah fantastic, I’ll give this a bit more time but after a few listens I’m giving this a preliminary perfect 5/5!
    Oh yeah and the artwork!! Outstanding. Must be the best conceptual DM record since Artificial Brain!

  • sir_c

    Their music comes in with the same devastating impact as Bolt Thrower’s run-over-by-a-tank albums. Fucking intense punch in the face this is, which is a compliment obviously.
    Respect.

  • Requiem

    Jesus tits… This is fucking magnificent on so many levels…

  • De2013

    After listening to it for a couple of months this could be ROTY for me.

  • Requiem

    I wasn’t thrilled by this the first time I listened to it, despite loving Immolation with an incredible passion… It just slowly bored me…
    …Then I got new speakers. Those old ones didn’t come close to doing this justice. This album is truly glorious.