I’ve been avoiding writing about Aosoth’s III for some time now. Why would I avoid writing about such an excellent album, you might ask? Well, to be perfectly blunt I was intimidated by it. Intimidated by the idea of attempting to translate its greatness into mere words. This is no bullshit hyperbole; I honestly believe that III is one of the most enthralling black metal albums of the last ten years; utterly devastating in its frightful, hypnotic magnificence.
Simply put, III is a pitch-black womb of distortion, inviting you to crawl deep inside and die. The album seethes and lurches; the maw of the great abyss opens wide, yawning your demise. Its atmosphere recalls Aosoth’s French black metal brethren such as Deathspell Omega, but Aosoth’s approach is less frenzied and angular, more deliberate and methodical. III also defies black metal convention by possessing crushing levels of low end; there is a eerie, droning ambience that pervades the entire album, adding to its mesmerizing qualities and tapping into something deeply primal, the rotten blackness that lies at the core of all human life, the capacity for unspeakable evil. The drone is one of the oldest known musical motifs; Aosoth use it to better effect than any black metal band I’ve encountered, imbuing their music with a tonality that is utterly unique while still holding on to genre tradition.
In that last paragraph, I referred to the album as a womb. Oddly enough, this idea occurred to me before I started reading MkM’s lyrics, which begin with: “Within your womb /Another me would be reborn / being one with you again / and you will carry me within / suffer from my weight inside / My bones will come from your bones / Your blood will create mine.” MkM’s words reference birth, death, sex and violence, painting a picture far more disturbing than the poverty-level Satanism that unfortunately makes up the bulk of black metal’s lyrical content. Don’t get me wrong, III is an extremely Satanic album, but Aosoth’s Satan doesn’t reign in some fantastical Hell, he dwells within the souls of men, just under the surface, waiting for the opportune moment to seduce and reveal his awful majesty.
Ultimately, the most fascinating aspect of III might be that it seemingly came out of nowhere. Aosoth’s two previous albums were well-executed, appropriately filthy displays of blackened orthodoxy, but in no way did they foreshadow the impressive leap in both style and substance the band has made here. Then again, I’m not sure anything could have prepared me for the time and space-stretching phantasmagoria that this album so effortlessly embodies; the “trance-out” effect created by the Norse treble attacks of old is nothing compared to what Aosoth accomplish over the course of these six tracks. Aosoth have tapped into that aforementioned inner Satan and channeled it into their music; the results are nothing short of stunning.
With III, Aosoth have birthed a bloody, malformed masterpiece, an album that not only exemplifies everything that black metal should be, but also establishes a unique voice within the black metal paradigm. Here’s to hoping they continue to look inward while striving for a piece of Lucifer. AMSG forever.