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Tyranny : Aeons In Tectonic Interment

With its immersive atmosphere and attention to detail, the long-awaited new Tyranny opus proves that Funeral Doom still has something to say.

2015 was a year of comebacks for the Finnish Funeral Doom scene. Among the active bands that best epitomise the archetypical Nordic style, Profetus are the only one not to release a new album, and they differ from the others in that they have been relatively active these last few years. Contrary to that, with their last full-length release more than a decade ago, Shape of Despair returned with an acclaimed new album. The genre-defining godfathers Skepticism, too, released their first album after a long hiatus (seven years) and surprised many fans with their idea of recording the new material live, though reactions to this ‘experiment’ were somewhat mixed.

The two-piece Tyranny complete the list: another essential name in the Finnish scene, their period of silence lasted no less than ten years, and their long-awaited new record may not only be their best one yet, but also the most interesting of the three releases mentioned. The title, Aeons in Tectonic Interment, could hardly have come from any other band and should immediately bring a smile to the faces of all lovers of Lovecraftian Doom. As such, it also gives you a fairly good idea of what to expect, and any last doubts will be settled after a glance at the song titles. And indeed, as soon as the fade-in of the first riff emerges from an obscure haze of samples, like a Shoggoth amorphously bulging itself upwards from a lightless abyss forgotten by the ages, anyone familiar with Tyranny’s previous output will feel right at home.

The influence of H.P. Lovecraft has had a significant impact on contemporary pop culture, inspiring not only authors, but also filmmakers, game designers and, of course, musicians. However, across all forms of art, only few offerings continue his heritage in a way that is true to the essence of his work, and I would argue that Tyranny’s music is among them. To this end, the meticulous sound design, somewhat akin to that of (Dark) Ambient music, is an even more critical component on Aeons in Tectonic Interment than it was on the previous record. Every tiny detail seems to have been created with a lot of care and effort to ensure the desired effect, an impressive example being a singularly menacing bass sound surfacing during a break in “The Stygian Enclave”. The basic drum rhythms and guitar chords merely form the backbone to something much more complex, subtle and sinister: layers upon layers of lead guitar, synths and eerie samples melt in and out of each other, conveying a sense of indescribable yet inescapable dread, of something inhuman lurking just beyond the reach of our perception.

In all this, the deep, hoarse growling seems more like the voice of a ghostly storyteller than a vessel to communicate human experience and emotion. It is hard to make out the words without consulting the lyrics sheet, but making the effort can be rewarding in that it further enhances the atmosphere: fortunately, the lyrics mimic Lovecraft’s style in a credible and effective way, allowing them to form a coherent whole with the music. Smooth transitions between songs give additional weight to this sense of coherence.

Tying in well with the above, the production greatly contributes to the overall effect of the compositions: it maintains the obscure, subdued character that is typical of the band, but does so with a crisper, slightly more modern and transparent mix which helps bring out the finesse of the arrangements, allowing the details to unfold. Thus, songwriting, sound design and production have all evolved well beyond the (already excellent) level of Tides of Awakening.

But the new album is more than a mere improvement over earlier achievements and, as such, more daring than the new offering by Shape of Despair. Throughout the five tracks, one cannot help but feel a new excitement on the musicians’ part; an urge to experiment and try something new. There are fewer repetitions of individual riffs, making room for a level of variation that is new to the band. You will hear quiet interludes, build-ups culminating in double-bass drumming (for instance at the end of the opener, “Sunless Deluge”) or a short Death Doom outburst in “A Voice Given Unto Ruin” – a welcome increase in dynamics which does not break the continuous, organic Funeral Doom flow. “Preparation of a Vessel” has a slightly more aggressive edge and features another build-up complete with strange vocal effects and meandering lead guitar reminiscent of the later works of Esoteric. There is even some occasional tremolo picking, and the drums, too, have more to do now, with ‘proper’ fills appearing every now and then. The album ends with surprisingly melodic and memorable riffing as if opening up the stage for even more new possibilities on future releases.

With Aeons in Tectonic Interment, Tyranny are unlikely to disappoint any fan. Compared to their earlier work, it is more complex and challenging, but at the same time more accessible thanks to the improved production and increase in dynamics. Thus, the album may gain the band some new followers, too, but beware: this is still uncompromising Funeral Doom and, as such, pure underground music which will only appeal to a select audience. It both epitomises and advances the genre, and its immersive atmosphere and attention to detail make it an ideal candidate for close and repeated listening and, therefore, for becoming a classic. Albums of this calibre are extremely rare in this genre, but as long as they do appear, they prove that Funeral Doom still has something to say. And that the spirit of H.P. Lovecraft is far from dead.

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Reviewer's rating: 10/10


Tracklist :
1. Sunless Deluge
2. A Voice Given Unto Ruin
3. Preparation of a Vessel
4. The Stygian Enclave
5. Bells of the Black Basilica

Duration : Approx. 51 minutes

Visit the Tyranny bandpage.

Reviewed on 2016-01-06 by Dominik Sonders
Rotten Copper
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