Friday, 12 February 2016

Alphabetical Discovery - Week A, Day Seven: Aquilus

Photography by Mark Hoffmann at Not Flash Photos.
Aquilus is a one-man black-metal project out of Melbourne, Australia and Aquilus's only album - 2011's Grisieus - is incredible. Sensuous, vast and sweeping orchestral melodies - layers of violin, cello ringing, sliding - collide with crunching melodic riffs in the long and varied epic. The melodic progressions are mind-blowing; with all this music reaching us from all corners of the globe a click away, I think sometimes genuine moments of awe are distilled, or lessened, by the excessive amounts of incredible and instantly-accessible music, however there are more than a few awe-inducing moments on Aquilus's Griseus that only occur sparingly in music. 

Aquilus - Griseus
There are many prolonged orchestral passages void of any extremity; light, airy, subtle and fairy-like at times, in my opinion it never gets boring, it's brilliantly constructed, it progresses and moves through various sounds and intensities like an epic film-score (at times it really feels like something cut from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack, it's much less plastic and flat as, I feel, is the case with Summoning.)

Grisius is long: at 1 hour and 19 minutes it really demands a lot of attention, but it's incredibly submersing and nothing ever feels like it's being dragged on for too long, nothing is blown out of proportion. Australia does seem to produce these epic one-man atmospheric projects and Aquilus, it can be said, is the more folky and neoclassical inspired younger brother of the astral, dream-space music of Midnight Odyssey. A less blatant connection would be with Opeth; there are many qualities in Aquilus's music, particuarly when it breaks into black-metal intensity (such as in 'Loss'), of Morningrise-esque melody and riff progression. Songs like 'Loss' erupt towards the end with a haunting aggression. 'Smokefall' opens with searing riffs and deep guttural growls, leaning more towards a melodic-death/doom sound akin to the ethereal soundscapes of early Amorphis or Anathema.

The heavy parts are heavy, but laced with poisonous melody and orchestral sweeps. 'Latent Thistle' is one such example. It's an incredibly ambitious sound: the ambition has paid off. I genuinely think that Griseus is one of the best atmospheric black-metal albums.

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