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Review: Aarni - Bathos

Label: Firebox Records
Year released: 2004
Duration: 65:08
Tracks: 9
Genre: Doom Metal

Rating: 2.5/5

Review online: September 23, 2006
Reviewed by: Lars Christiansen
Readers Rating

Rated 2.71/5 (54.29%) (7 Votes)

I didn't know what quite to expect when this CD found its way into my hands for reviewing, with only a split album to their names with the bizarre quantity Umbra Nihil, this their debut album was a refreshing (if not infuriating) listen.

The nearest classifications stylistically would be a mix of doom, ambient and folk music, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Complete with a resplendently hallucinogenic piece of cover art, akin somewhat to what I would imagine watching an episode of 'The Magic Roundabout' would be like, whilst imbibing huge amounts of vodka spiked with PCP (don't try THAT at home kiddies…) this is one oddball band to say the least. This is not to mention a band member that doesn't even exist anywhere, apart from on a computer's hard disk (don't ask), the word "avant-garde" doesn't really do this particular piece of art justice, it simply doesn't explain the half of just how plain weird this stuff gets!

Opening the album is a very retro sounding two chord synthesiser line, replete with a shimmering guitar accompaniment, which is dropped brashly for an earthy sounding bass, twanging notes seemingly at random at first, before forming a nice, relaxed bass line, which is again joined by ethereal guitar, then slow drums and POW! YES! Doom city here we come.

That pretty much sets the benchmark for the album, although with that said, it is highly unorthodox throughout, with bizarre leanings to a plethora of musical styles for the duration of the running time, whilst retaining its firm doomy early Sabbath-esque foundation. This is where the album falters sadly, no matter how hard it attempts to capture your imagination and whisk you off to another plane of trance-like existence; it doesn't quite pull it off. It seems that this is due mainly to the ambiance of the overall sound being harshly spoilt by the gut-wrenching transformations in song composition. Just as it gets a great thing going, it mutates into a self indulgent, noodling odyssey that has seemingly been added on for the whim of the composer only. Not that it's badly structured per se, just that the meanderings can become tiresome and irritating at times, and would seem out of place ANYWHERE on any album. At least I guess there are no worries about songs sounding 'samey' here, but I personally feel they flaw the album greatly, rather than add texture. So there we have it, a fragmented, difficult, sometimes invigorating album. Definitely not one for the doom virgins out there, being more aimed for those with patience, perseverance and a LOT of time on their hands. But even then, it's still principally a distinctly average piece of work.

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