After releasing a handful of minor releases since their formation in 2005, Greek avant-garde black metal act Aenaon released this debut full-length in June of 2011 on code666. Cenres et Sang is an album that's strikingly unique in sound, while still providing plenty of quality compositions and impressive musicianship. The band's unique mix of genres, topped off with a strange, avant-garde twist makes Cenres et Sang an excellent recommendation to those seeking music on the not-so-traditional side of black metal. Aenaon still has some work to do with creating songs that are mind-blowing in structure, as well as making a slightly more coherent album, but this is generally an exceptional debut full-length that I've had a pleasure experiencing.
Right off the bat, a few things stand out immediately unique about Aenaon's sound. Although they do occasionally lean in the noisy, chaotic avant-garde sounds of Blut Aus Nord or Deathspell Omega, Aenaon generally play a much more melodic style of avant-black metal, with plenty of influences from jazz, progressive rock, and ambient. Most of this album isn't very "avant-garde" in a compositional sense - many of the songs here are fairly conventional - but it is instead avant-garde when looking at the arrangements. The strange saxophone portions, occasional operatic vocals, and unconventional guitar effects really put Aenaon at odds with most of the straightforward black metal crowd. Cenres et Sang's unique ambitions are ultimately its strongest asset, and the band's willingness to experiment is quite encouraging.
The songwriting on Cenres et Sang is also generally pretty strong - tracks like "Suncord" and "Once" certainly leave an impression on the listener, and throwaways are nowhere to be found. A few songs may lack a bit in the department of memorability, yet they never come across as boring in any sense. The strong and unique musicianship tends to keep things interesting, even if a few compositions may be slightly lacking. The chaotic, yet still clear and audible production also helps flesh-out the emotional impact that Aenaon attempts to obtain - and, for the most part, they succeed tremendously.
Cenres et Sang isn't a flawless album, and Aenaon will still have to work on songwriting a little more before taking the avant-black metal world by storm, but this is still a very impressive debut outing from one of Greece's most promising young acts. If you're an extreme metal fan with an eclectic list of other musical interests, odds are that you'll enjoy Cenres et Sang quite a bit. I'd say 3.5 stars are warranted here. I'll be curious to see where Aenaon heads in the coming years.
3. Psychonautic Odyssey
4. Grand Narcotic Harvest
5. Once Finite
6. Carnivora's Lair
9. Black Nerve
10. In Heaven