Five The Hierophant – Through Aureate Void

Rating: 4.5/5
Distributor/label: Dark Essence Records
Released: 2020
Buy Album: https://fivethehierophant.bigcartel.com/product/through-aureate-void-cd
Band Websites: https://www.facebook.com/fivethehierophant

BAND LINE-UP:

Mitch – Bass & Effects,
Chris – Drums, Temple Bells, Djembe, Shakers & Gong,
Kali – Guitar, Bowed Guitar, Rag-dung, Violin & Grand Piano Noise.

TRACKLISTING:

01. Leaf In The Current
02. Fire From Frozen Cloud
03. Berceuse
04. Pale Flare Over Marshes
05. The Hierophant II

REVIEW:

Boundaries, rules, and restrictions are a necessity in life. Fact. Now, that may come across as something of a terrifyingly authoritarian statement, and some with which the more green members of our little corner of music will rally against (“Smash the system!” Yes, yes, all that, but I’m sure you still pay your taxes and stop at red lights). While these are necessary to keep us all from killing each other, in art they can be used as somewhat of a marker that dares artists to push, to experiment, and to test the limits of what is possible within their field. It’s why we have things like extreme metal, dark ambient, and jazz, and why we have bands like FIVE THE HIEROPHANT combining them.

The London collective return with their sophomore effort in ‘Through Aureate Void’ and those who were on board with their determined boundary-pushing will feel right at home once again. The very essence of experimental metal is tested to within an inch of its life across the five tracks on offer here. There are no formulas; just a desire to explore the sonic heights and depths of the bleak atmosphere. This is an album where ideas come along and begin in one form but gestate over time, morphing and warping into an oppressive monster whose roar is all-encompassing.

It’s this sort of thing that ‘Through Aureate Void’ does so well: image conjuring. The slow, meditative intro to opener “Leaf In The Current”, with its sultry saxophone and commanding drumming, could easily emanate from some netherworld jazz club down-wind from the Styx. Yet the crunching guitars that build into the increasingly complex layers of sound as the track develops creates a bit of a hellish landscape to behold – the Styx has never given the impression of being a pleasant river to travel along, but less so when there are fire and gloom abound.

Further to this notion of image-conjuring is this sense of journey. With no songs even hovering around the five-minute-mark, this is not a simple blast of music, but rather an album to lose yourself to. The ritualistic-nature that opens “Fire From Frozen Cloud”, with hints at Eastern-style melodies calls to mind a funeral procession in some forgotten ancient world. When those heavy guitars return, you can imagine things may have gotten a little sacrificial (and rather bloody). Additionally, fellow heavier cut, “Pale Flare Over Marshes” sounds positively arctic with drones and a slower tempo; an ominous atmosphere that asks whether the cold or being stuck trudging through swampland will finish you off first.

The heavier guitars certainly add extra heft to ‘Through Aureate Void’, but it’s the haunting jazz-ambience of “Berceuse” and “The Hierophant II” that really demonstrates FIVE THE HIEROPHANT’s prowess to create an atmosphere. The rumbling, walking bassline and squawking saxophone couldn’t sound more sinister in the former if it tried, whilst that otherworldly-jazz vibe returns in the latter with frenetic drums and deranged saxophone wails. This eventually descends into a moody finale that could ably soundtrack the last throes of a trip or binge; a sad, despairing comedown made all the worse for the gutter you have found yourself in.

What a lot of listeners forget with the music of this sort is that, despite the impenetrable front-end, there lies a complex depth that is ripe for exploring and journeying through. Imagination may not be a strong suit in today’s mile-a-minute society, but where ‘Through Aureate Void’ excels is allowing listeners to just completely lose themselves in its encompassing atmosphere. While FIVE THE HIEROPHANT continues pushing the envelope with atmospheric and heavy rituals, let your mind wander and make up the other half of the experience with your own images and stories. To some, this will be about as daunting as it can get, but if you’re willing, you will find that ‘Through Aureate Void’ is only half appropriately-titled: it is, indeed, golden, but it is far from an empty experience.

Review by Lee Carter
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