ÂGE ⱡ TOTAL is a collaborativve project including Endless Floods, Greyfell and other friends between the two majestic cities of Bordeaux and Rouen. They’re simply an atmospheric Sci-Fi Sludge/Doom Metal band that seems to have found the way that many tend to lose easily. This is their debut EP and although I’m not a fan of how the name is written, I’ve become a huge fan of their effort here. Track #1 – Armure opens with a gentle chant with surrounding layers of synth that flows gently across the room, the band doesn’t get into the heavy mode till it’s 5 minutes. They then marry the heaviness that the traditional Sludge provides with beautiful esoteric loneliness that the synth offers. At 14 minutes in length this is the longest track of the EP and keeps you well within the wraps of their journey. The guitars showcase themselves with care and precision. There’s not an extra note jumping out of rhythm in this March of melancholy. They’re carefully embedded with the rhythm, sometimes mixed slightly lower but yet make their presence felt throughout. I suppose we have to talk about the drumming here, I’m not familiar with which drummer took the active role here or if both the drummers played alongside by side (does feel like that at times but I can’t be certain for sure).
What kind of drumming stands out? The one that is just right, that’s the drumming that stands out and with Age Total, it’s a measured, acknowledged and a well crafted tool that holds the songs together. But isn’t all drumming supposed to hold the music together? Well, not really, a drummer is a timekeeper and has no obligation to rest the heaviness of the band on their shoulders. In this case, the drummer gently packages the relative heaviness and synth laden atmospheric denseness and engages with the skins with a tormented grace. This is what we need and this is a fantastic performance. The vocals sound like recorded versions of echoes from Norwegian mountains, if we took all the music away and played the isolated vocals alongside a stream of freshwater in a Scandinavian forest they’d actually sound in sync. We need to talk about Track #2 – Carré, a glitchy-electro-atmospheric incantation, which is brilliantly put together. It is the suburban soundtrack to a city at night creaking with a derelict synth in the background.
This is a fantastic EP and I’m looking forward to more of their output in the future. I do sense this project potentially branching out into a power electronics zone eventually and that’d be interesting too. Track 3, the unambiguously titled ‘Metal’ is your standard heavy affair with their style of delivery and happens to be a good companion to the EP. Songs like these are to be experienced live and when well done create the gentle rhythmic aura behind a screen of lights. I genuinely hope I get to see them live someday, for today, if you’ve got some time to spare please do check them out.
Pretty standard death metal EP with a questionable drum sound on Track #1. If I heard this back in 2005 I wouldn’t have given this another listen and frankly but for the standard delivery there isn’t much which makes it stands on its own. My favourite track is “Babtized in Vomit” which just marches on with fantastic vocals and relentless drumming. Yes, you do hear the bass pop in now and then but otherwise this is a decent effort on the whole. I’ve to chip in about the production here, it is well done. It gives good room for the instruments and giving us a nice well rounded sound. To sum it up, it sounds alright with nothing really standing out on its own. It sure passes for a decent death metal EP but would easily get lost in the mix of releases unless you’re specifically looking for it.
It was quite an accident that I came across this release. Kawthra are a Canadian band who in their own words are “Bound by an ever present disdain for existence, Kawthra’s form of sludge fills the sonic space with reverberating screamsand thick, burdensome riffs. Born from Fort Erie, Ontario, this four piece combines brooding passages with hauntingly melodic expanses that frame the desperate cries for purpose.” This is one of the most accurate mini bio’s written by bands. Kawthra haven’t split the sky into two, they haven’t redrawn parameters of existence into auditory aberrations, they’ve just decided to play riffs that bring down buildings with heaviness that is usually associated with the apocalypse or the more accessible internal torment. Their lyrics are introspective and it makes sense why they’ve chosen the form of metal they ended up with. This brand of doomy sludge offers the width to carry the burden and the band manage to bring all their angst festered with harshness onto this EP. Kawthra also manage to put together an absolute bare bones eerie atmosphere that chills in between the monolith of riffs. I’m going to follow this band till their first full length at the least.
My Dying Bride sticks to their well established template with this EP. Although the band seems to have sped up their riffs and songs in general, otherwise there are no haunting riffs, no eerie slow drums that pierce the atmosphere. The keyboards are slid within the rhythm section and shine through on the last track ‘A Purse of Gold and Stars’. This is a good-riffy EP. Not that the riffs in themselves are spectacular, they just stick to an essential My Dying Bride sound. However, the guitars sound absolutely spectacular, the tone isn’t too distorted or tuned down to the depths. It’s a fine balance to carry the band forward. Aaron’s vocals add a brilliant layer on the top, no complaints there. The EP is a fantastic display of the band’s musicianship.
To add to it, the EP has been mixed really well, there is not a dull moment. The opening track is a 10 minute hymn to the darkness, the band puts their best foot forward and sound their coherent best. Propelled by Aaron’s vocals and fantastic rhythm section, this song alone makes sufficient case to get a physical copy of this release. The guitars aren’t muddy, they’re deep, easy and relatively slow in comparison. The band has also released a video for this and that it in itself speaks volumes of where the band currently are. I’m delighted to hear this and I’m positive every fan of Peaceville sound will definitely appreciate this track in entirety.
‘A Purse of Gold and Stars’ should be called out for invoking the beautiful atmosphere of “Sear Me MCMXCIII”. Albeit this track feels like is a gentle reflection off a nice quiet stream. This song is a fantastic look into My Dying Bride’s phenomenal sense of songwriting. A slow, reflective composition that embraces the shallow atmosphere and to add to the effect are brilliant vocals. These are the tracks where the band springs to life. No matter how well they weave their rhythm to the dark atmosphere, it’s these gentle pieces where the band is at their best. It’s a relatively short EP clocking at 22 minutes and it does leave you wanting for more.
From the memorable yet basic riffs on the title track ‘Macabre Cabaret’ to the more doomy ‘A Secret Kiss’ where the entire band is at their best, there are no complaints. Infact ‘A Secret Kiss’ takes us back to the band’s heavy sound which is an absolute pleasure. I see this EP as a good companion to their stronger albums. There are no identify problems or sudden departures from the established. It’s a wonderful release on this whole. Do get a copy! This is a good display of My Dying Bride’s agility and I for one am glad to hear this release this year.