Yes! After five years since the release of The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos, the highly anticipated follow-up from the death metal band Sulphur Aeon is finally here, with a release date of October 13, 2023. When I saw this album in the promotional list, I didn’t hesitate for a second and immediately signed up to hear and review the new record. I’ve been very impressed with the previous material from this German band. The album is titled Seven Crowns and Seven Seals. Because of my registration, I’m also trying to satisfy my curiosity a bit because I just can’t wait too long to receive the digipak and deluxe box versions that I preordered from Ván Records. I’m not into vinyl, so I’ll pass on that. There are also different versions of it, and I can imagine that the album cover’s artwork will look stunning on an LP format.
The cover was created by Paolo Girardi instead of Ola Larsson, who designed the EP and the first 3 full-length albums’ covers. The band states that the artwork now aligns more with the thematic elements based on the stories of H.P. Lovecraft, which the lyrics revolve around. Does this indicate a radical change in direction? Well, I can already tell you it does not.
What immediately catches my attention is the sound. While I often found the first records to sound a bit dull and dark, Seven Crowns and Seven Seals seems to have a much clearer production. The vocals and guitars come through quite clearly. Not a problem in my eyes, but I also thought the darkness of the earlier records was pretty cool and fitting for the band’s music and themes. There’s a lot happening during the songs, so it’s handy to be able to distinguish everything better, especially during the faster sections where it used to be a bit tricky to grasp everything clearly.
The album starts with an ominous intro called Sombre Tidings, and it’s an apt title. It serves as an introduction to the massive track Hammer from the Howling Void. Here, we immediately hear the old Sulphur Aeon from the previous records. Hard, fast, dark, with recognizable riffs that the band is known for. The song features a clear chorus where both musically and vocally, they take a 180-degree turn, making the chorus really stand out. It also adds a unique dynamic to the song. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s a great start!
The next track, Usurper of the Earth and Sea, begins with whispered vocals and an acoustic intro, then descends into drama with even more menacing vocals. And then it goes all out with the faster sections until it eases into a quieter part with a melancholic riff that leads into the calm middle section of the song. Then we’re treated to a black metal-inspired section with cutting guitars and blast beats before transitioning into an epic conclusion. Some great guitar solo work here too. What a fantastic track!
Arcane Cambrian Sorcery is a track with a high degree of groove and is generally less aggressive, but make no mistake, the pedal certainly goes all the way to the metal at times. Moreover, this track serves as a good indicator of what the renewed Sulphur Aeon sounds like.
In summary, I can’t help but say that they’ve once again managed to deliver a true masterpiece. The skill these guys have in writing amazing songs that linger in your mind is impressive. Like tides, the songs flow within the framework of each individual track, but also throughout the entire album, you’re tormented by the variety between brutality and emotion. The band delivers a magnificent auditory experience with this release.
Sulphur Aeon demonstrates on Seven Crowns and Seven Seals that they have continued to evolve and prove they are still more than relevant. A band that consistently delivers quality deserves all the praise. This album is no exception and solidifies their position at the top of the death metal hierarchy. It’s material for year-end lists. As an added bonus and a nice addition to this release, the demo Sulphur Psalms from 2010 is being reissued!
VÁN Records, 2023
- Sombre Tidings
- Hammer from the Howling Void
- Usurper of the Earth and Sea
- The Yearning Abyss Devours Us
- Arcane Cambrian Sorcery
- Seven Crowns and Seven Seals
- Beneath the Ziqqurats
- T. – Guitar
- A. – Guitar
- D. – Drum
- S. – Bass
- M. – Vocals