If there was a word lately that’s been plaguing my promo-picking (and hence, my review-writing), it would be the word “should.” Everything from the band and sound descriptions, groups featuring members I respect and admire, and comparisons to well-established acts of olde color my judgment to the point that my very enjoyment hinges on the idea that satisfaction would be gathered by what I’m reading about. Supergroups are no exception. Yes, that term has been flogged more than dead horsemeat, but when you’ve got a band made up of members of established funeral doom stalwarts such as Pantheist, Aphonic Threnody, and Void of Silence, the end result should (there’s that word) be enticing. That’s what Dust of Aeons, the debut album from international funeral misers Towards Atlantis Lights, aims for. Such a pedigree catapults the expectations of a high-quality emotional funeral dirge to levels of idol-worship.
In bits and pieces, Dust pays respectful homage to the days where The Peaceville Three ruled the roost. Both “Babylon’s Hanging Gardens” and closer “Greeting Mausolus’ Tomb” pull the listener down to earth with Ivan Zara (Void of Silence) carefully supplying simple riffs and melodies combined with keyboardist Kostas Panagiotou’s (Pantheist, Landskap) woeful singing and quiet growls. That mournful feeling of dread that early My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost captured back in the 90s comes back in full effect during these two songs, showcasing early promise in Towards Atlantis Lights‘ career. In short spurts, Dust gives off an impression that bigger things will come.
Those big things are the other two songs on the album, but “bigger” doesn’t mean “better” here. Sixteen-minute epic “Alexandria’s Library” switches off parts too often to really plant root and grow into something captivating or breathtaking. Worse still, half-hour opener “The Bunker of Life” takes double the time to go half the distance with little in the way of interesting rhythms or melodies. It’s a half hour of insomnia-curing plod that never leads to anything climactic or memorable, and funeral doom thrives off that very notion that long lengths need to resolve with a worthwhile payoff. Neither song, despite beautiful piano melodies ending both of them, gets enough lift-off to truly soar anywhere of note.
The lifeless production bears a good part of the blame for that. The guitars and Panagiotou’s voice both suffer from a lifeless, punchless mix, with the latter’s crooning and growls both sounding flat and muted. Somewhere in there, Riccardo Veronese’s (Aphonic Threnody) bass makes a random appearance here-and-there but otherwise doesn’t poke out enough to leave a lasting mark. But even with the best production known to humankind, if the songs don’t gel, it’s all for naught. There’s a reason why both Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride moved on from epic-length songs, as they learned to trim the fat and condense their misery into palatable portions. Also, new cats like Bell Witch and Mournful Congregation successfully engage the listener through their sweeping compositions by way of heft, careful note-/chord-placement, and tighter songwriting.
Promise exists, though. Half of the album (at roughly one-sixth the album’s length) plays off Towards Atlantis Lights‘s strengths admirably. That said, I don’t see myself returning to Dust of Aeons. And that’s a shame, as I respect the prior works of all the members involved. It’s a case that something that I “should” like turned into a “didn’t.” Perhaps next time, then.