Black Sun Aeon - _Darkness Walks Beside Me_
(Stay Heavy Records, 2009)
by: Colleen Burton (8 out of 10)
This excellent death/doom project began under Before the Dawn's Tuomas Saukkonen, who handles every aspect of the band apart from clean vocals (in the studio). _Darkness Walks Beside Me_ offers just what you would expect from such talent, from the brooding piano of "A Song for the Introduction" which breaks into powerful vocals and strong, melodic death leads during "A Song for My Wrath". Tuomas' harsh voice inflames his music with such potency -- and decent mixing means that the atmospheric effects of the keyboard will not be lost upon the listener. I'm somewhat biased towards death/doom, as I believe it exploits the best aspects of either genre, but some of these tracks are positively majestic, like "A Song for My Demise" which layers mournful clean vocals over Tuomas' deeper growls, or the crushingly heavy "A Song for My Weakness". The guitar work is always simple yet meaningful, and crystal clear, as it is frequently acoustic. "A Song for My Sorrow" sounds like it fell out of a Novembers Doom album, and it turns out that Amorphis' Tomi provides vocals for this track. He is succeeded by Ville Sorvali's presence on two other tracks. The tempo palpably slows towards the end of the album, but the denseness pervades through the arrangements, favorably via a driving bass groove during "A Song for My Illness".

This sort of vocal clout combined with the sonorous playing is a successful technique already used by Slumber, but Black Sun Aeon de-emphasizes the drums and generally keeps uptempo of acts like October Tide that stick closely with doom roots. Striking a fine balance between evanescence and exertion, _Darkness Walks Beside Me_ is guaranteed to please lovers of eclectic genre-mashers like Amorphis and remains an obvious choice for fans of Before the Dawn who are eager to see Tuomas in a new and sophisticated light... or darkness, rather.


(article published 5/7/2009)

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