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Old 09-29-2009, 08:47 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Australia
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Aion (1990)

Released 2 years after the majestic “The Serpent’s Egg” in 1990, Aion had rather large shoes to fill. By this time the previous neoclassical and melancholic tone had been well developed to its peak by the band, and it was seeking a fresher road to travel. Aion signals the introduction of a much wider medieval and folk-ish style, filled to the brim with quick songs that do their part and then breeze off into the sunset. A rapid departure at times from the ethereal Serpent’s Egg, it manages to captivate in a vastly different way. The album cover comes from the well-known HiĆ«ronymus Bosch painting, ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’, which the band had previously alluded to, naming its first EP ‘Garden of the Arcane Delights’.

The band indicates the direction they will be heading with The Arrival and the Reunion, one and a half minutes of medieval chanting, which is spectacular and powerful on high volume. Saltarello follows this up, which is an instrumental dance from Italy, going back to the 14th century. The frenetic pace and folk sound/instrumentation makes this a favourite from the album, as it lifts the spirits. A short interlude follows, Mephisto lasting less than a minute, yet is beautiful in its subtlety and repetition.

Saltarello (Terrible live bootleg. **** you WMG)

The first hearty song comes with Songs of the Sibyl, again capturing the more classical and harmonious side of medieval type music, with Gerrard leading the proceedings. It creates the imagery of a vast church, filled with onlookers, Gerrard captivating them as the procession begins, and is another modern interpretation of a tradition song (Catalan, composed in the 16th century). Fortune Presents Gifts Not According to the Book introduces Perry vocal-wise to the album, and he happily agrees the invitation. Beginning with minimal acoustic plucking of a guitar with a mysterious haze throughout, John Bonnar joins in on keyboard, with a whole manner of percussion building depth. The lyrics are almost read, story-like, outside of the chorus, when Perry repeats, “When you expect whistles it's flutes,
When you expect flutes it's whistles”. The song screams simplicity is often the better form of elegance.

As the Bell Rings the Maypole Spins is similarly structured, an instrument beginning in isolation (This time Gerrard’s voice) before other elements are bought in, of particular strength are the bagpipes. Despite its occasional domineering moments, the song maintains its sense of remoteness and gloominess, the basic beat and base percussion maintaining a deep beat and tone. The song has multiple small elements that are easy to pick out yet make the song all the better. These two relatively long songs are followed by The End of Words, which reaches a measly two minutes in length. It once again introduces the deep choral work, used throughout the album already, however guest vocalist David Navarro Sust is used well.

This is all a lead up to the best song on the album bar none, in Black Sun. Aggressive, fast-paced, wild, the instruments are released. Pounding drums introduce the track before hard-hitting trumpets bellow from bellow at majestic pace. Basic percussion adds amazing depth as Perry sings over the top, “Like having a black sun, in a white world.” Every factor works to perfection as Perry slowly builds up his song before entering its peak. It all goes too fast in comparison to some songs on the album.

Black Sun (Average quality, starts at about 30 seconds)

Wilderness is yet another intermission type of heavy orchestral/Gerrard vocal work. The Promised Womb uses an combination of bass and tenor violin to create an interesting and dynamic backing to Gerrard’s most focalised performance on the album. The Garden of Zephirus is a treat, despite it being a rather short one. Summoning recollection of Satyr tales in my memory, it’s a simple and short frolic through the plains. The album’s finale comes with Radharc, in yet another sensational album ending. It uses various small woodwind instruments well to create the most unique sounds on the album that take centre stage before Gerrard enters the piece in my favourite performance of hers on the album.

Aion was quite the change from their previous albums. It took a few risks, some that paid off and some that didn’t. The album, however, is interesting in its lack of creating some standout songs in my opinion. The album works well as a whole, yet there are few shining moments that are ‘must listen to’ on their own, save Black Sun, Saltarello and possibly Radharc. The album is also relatively scarce of individual vocal performances, another interesting twist from their previous works. I did have a problem with the relative shortness of songs. Few were allowed to develop, and rather hit hard from the get go with less development. This isn’t bad when used in moderation, but in this album it is used far too often, and becomes a major detriment.

The Arrival And The Reunion (1:39)
Saltarello (2:34)
Mephisto (0:54)
The Song Of The Sybil (3:45)
Fortune Presents Gifts Not According To The Book (6:30)
As The Bell Rings The Maypole Spins (5:16)
The End Of Words (2:05)
Black Sun (4:56)
Wilderness (1:24)
The Promised Womb (3:23)
The Garden Of Zephirus (1:18)
Radharc (2:48)

In a Few Words: Best appreciated in its entirety
Best track/s: Black Sun, Saltarello and Radharc
Running time: ~36 minutes
Favourite Lyrics:
Man of fire.”

Rating – A collected 7/10

Last edited by Zarko; 10-20-2009 at 10:13 PM.
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