Review: “Aphelic Ascent” by AD Omega

Since they were born to this Earth on barren ground in 2019 Italian Avant-garde Dissonant Black Metal duo AD Omega have been nothing short of prolific, releasing a trio of EPs and now with “Aphelic Ascent“, two full length albums in five years. The work of multi-instrumentalist Noktvrnal (vocals, guitars, bass, synth) and drummer Vindur has been brought to us by Drakkar Productions (Watain, Deathspell Omega, Mütiilation) and is recorded, mixed and mastered in house by the pair. Considered by them to be the culmination of three years of development of their sound it is lyrically centred on satanic concepts linked to Chaos-Gnosticism; the end of times (Pralaya) in western and eastern traditions; the thought of Nietzsche, Frank Giano Ripel and Austin Osman Spare. Eight Hymns that ritualize the connection with the most destructive and instinctual energies for the deification of Self, to ascend to states of consciousness beyond all law…

…with that in mind the tsunami of percussive battery and atmospheric darkness accompanied by a bloodcurdling roar at the start of “Dysangelium” (meaning ominous tidings) comes as no surprise, the demonic abrasions emanating from Noktvrnal’s throat like battery acid to the ear drums. Together the pair paint a picture in swirling, dark and brooding sounds of a hellscape, a barren wasteland burning in the post-apocalyptic sunshine and to begin an album with such a beast sets the tone in monstrous fashion. The oppressive atmospherics continue into “Profane Mystic Crown“, the pair of cuts barely separated by a momentary sonic reprieve before the bludgeoning begins again before a things take a strange turn on the left hand path. A sudden drop off in eerie synth melody offers up a seemingly Jazz inspired bass moment before things pick up once more in eclectic fashion as if we have left the dark forest of despair and stumbled across a haunted house that brings forth new nightmares. At first glance some of the white noise in the sound masks the depth of the album but over multiple listens nuances bleed through the bandages, appearing like her ghost in the fog at an alarming rate. It’s as if the brain can not cope with the sheer volume of input and as you become used to the madness and the straight jacket is loosened, things become even more disturbing. “Solvet Cosmos In Favilla” is one of that nature, a pin prick that seems innocent enough but has actually administered a lethal dose of venom with creepy synths pushing the boundaries of the depravity beyond what is possible with instruments traditional to the genre. In a similar fashion to bands like Imperial Triumphant the duo are bending the rules to breaking point and yet still somehow holding onto their roots with bloody hands.

The cinematic interlude “Aphelion“, which refers to the point in the orbit at which an object is furthest from the sun, is a stunning piece of work at 193 seconds, the ultimate palate cleanser that reaches Hans Zimmer levels of epic grandeur. It’s almost a thing that should not be, beauty that leads into the downright ugliness of “Stellar Heritage“, a cut which builds on the science fiction with melancholic meanderings and vocals so caustic that barely a word is decipherable. Noktvrnal’s voice has become an implement of sonic destruction to enhance the bands sound rather than something you can comprehend by this point, something reinforced with “The Bitterest Heart” as while the windswept darkness of the music is stunning, the vocals offer the contrast or the counter weight. A cut that could have been the title track, “Triumph Of Void” punishes with finesse, a melancholic score that washes away any hope of survival and ushers in the end of days with searing heat as the flames of the bands performance reach new heights. This is one where it would be interesting to hear the instrumental version to see if it is able to create the same unnerving sense of tension without the disturbing plague wind of a vocal cutting through it like a hot knife through butter. As if the ear drums have not been tortured enough “Cosmic Demise” provides further disturbance, playing out as the title of the cut describes if we were in a Stanley Kubrick inspired John Carpenter directed science fiction horror movie. There is no where to run, no place to hide and in space, no one can hear you scream. By the end of the album if you don’t feel like you’ve been dragged kicking and screaming through the World of Alice’s depraved Wonderland and survived to tell the tale then you may wish to seek the help of a psychologist [7/10]

Track Listing

1. Dysangelium
2. Profane Mystic Crown
3. Solvet Cosmos In Favilla
4. Aphelion (Interlude)
5. Stellar Heritage
6. The Bitterest Heart
7. Triumph Of Void
8. Cosmic Demise

Aphelic Ascent” by AD Omega is out 10th January 2023 via Drakkar Productions with pre-orders available over at bandcamp

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