REVIEW: Centimani – Aegaeon
Genre: Blackened death metal
Many metal groups claim to and succeed in mixing together styles, but this usually comes in sections, swinging from one extreme to another. Fewer bands manage to synthesize aspects of two opposing styles (in this case, black and death metal) into a hybrid that satisfies both camps, but US new-schoolers Centimani have done an excellent job on their début album Aegaeon. Taking the best parts of Ex Deo and Dimmu’s symphonic elements, they also inject their own love of Roman and Ancient Greek history to create some strong tracks that follow on nicely from their EP Usurping The Throne Of Flesh.
The album starts slowly with “Titanomachia”, a short mood-setting instrumental combining a black metal guitar riff with some violins, and a melancholic solo over the top of it. However, the real pandemonium kicks off with “Serpent’s Coil”, a high-intensity blast with Faulk’s drumming taking the lead and twin guitar work from van Langenhoven and Hansen to back it up, with Holloway filling out the low end and Puls providing a tinkling keyboard in the style of Graveworm. It’s a powerful formula and one that serves them well, particularly when they kick it up a notch in “Fields of Karelia” to almost Fleshgod Apocalypse-speed with great effect. A defiant horn is blown to announce “Non Servium” and a blacker side to the band, before the powerful 9-minute closer of “Sacramentum” ties everything together with a Baroque overlay of orchestral elements adding to the atmosphere in a grand conclusion.
One of the most challenging parts of uniting black and death metal is the line between vocal styles, a line which Francis treads carefully when performing his guttural growls or black metal shrieks, although my preference firmly falls on the side of the former, particularly in “Self Aggrandizement”, where he does Frank Mullen (Suffocation) very proud. The growls are commanding but don’t overpower the music, whereas the shrieks seem more receded in the mix and make less of an impression. Although technically they are well-performed, if the shrieks were to be boosted in the mix they’d become more enjoyable, particularly in “Non Servium”, an otherwise very strong track.
Centimani also know how to throw some curveballs in this album. Aside from the already-mentioned insane speed found in “Fields Of Karelia”, they also have the quirky “Thyestean Banquet”, which must be the heaviest feasting tune since medieval times, also sporting some cool Svartsot-like folk influence. “Self Aggrandizement” is definitely the closest to oldschool death metal in Aegaeon, particularly in the solo. The keys are very well-executed, and bring just the right element of ‘epic’ to the songs, although the “Oracles” (Fleshgod)-inspired “Flames Of Gehenna”, a pleasant if lengthy orchestral piano piece, does outstay its welcome somewhat.
With a début album this strong coming from a band still relatively newly-formed, people have every reason to be excited about the future of Centimani. Aegaeon remains a strong listen throughout multiple spins in both black and death metal mindsets, and with a couple of tweaks I imagine their sophomore to be even stronger. Fans of Ex Deo and melodic black metal alike are strongly encouraged to pick up a copy of this, and I’ll update this review when studio tracks become available. For now, check out the streaming of their EP below, and a live video of “Fields Of Karelia”!