It’s likely most people slept on Aeviterne’s two-song Sireless EP when it came out in 2019. For the few who noticed, it’s been an agonizing wait for the group to drop their full-length debut, but the time has come. The Ailing Arcade is out this week, courtesy of Profound Lore Records, and it’s been worth the wait.
For the uninitiated, the group was founded by guitarist/vocalist Garett Bussanick after the dissolution of his previous band, the criminally underrated Flourishing. Both bands combine death metal with postpunk influences, but Aeviterne opts for a more cavernous take on the death metal end of things and adds more industrial and noise to the postpunk side. This combination of elements has provided them with an even more harrowing sound, unique in atmosphere but full of brutality.
Album opener “Denature” displays much of what makes Aeviterne so unique. Throughout much of the album, the percussive attack of Ian Jacyszyn takes center stage. Often, he pounds away on the toms in a style reminiscent of Killing Joke or Neurosis, but at tempos befitting death metal. When the time is right though, he slides into blast beats equal to any act out there. Garett and second guitarist Samuel Smith conjure riffs that split the difference between Portal and early Immolation, but also add higher end atmospherics reminiscent of Godflesh’s Streetcleaner or Pitchshifter’s Industrial. The final product is epic and pulverizing.
The effect grows cumulatively from song to song. There’s a sense of claustrophobia and oppressiveness that weighs down on the listener. About three quarters of the way through “Stilled the Hollows’ Sway,” a percussion and drone section comes in that is absolutely stunning. When the vocals arrive, they sound like a demon priest reciting hymns in the tunnels beneath a city.
Aeviterne moves from strength to strength. “The Reeking Sun” sounds like Godflesh meeting Deathspell Omega in a dark alley. Bassist Eric Rizk seems to guide the band from behind the scenes, secretly constructing a low-end architecture the music rests upon. The song is split down the middle by a noise section that recalls Throbbing Gristle, followed by more Portal-inspired death metal afterwards. This song is followed by “The Gaunt Sky,” which begins in an almost pure death metal mode but then more atmospheric guitar arrives to surf the relentless waves of percussion.
The album culminates with the instrumental title track. Here, the band really gets to settle into a groove and stretch their collective legs. It’s only slightly more relaxed than some of the other pieces, and they find an epic blast beat before it’s over. The song is both beautiful and incredibly heavy. Aeviterne once again takes the disparate elements of death and industrial, with a helping of post-rock, and creates a coherent whole.
Reading back over these words, it feels like I’m not doing this album justice. The Ailing Facade is a masterpiece. Aeviterne have emerged on their debut with their vision fully formed, and now it’s time for the rest of the metal world to catch up. We can only hope these guys will be a musical force to be reckoned with for years to come.