Son of AureliusThe Farthest Reaches is an album that gets crazier as it goes along. It’s as though the music had rabies, and was getting progressively more and more dangerous by the minute. The first three songs (“Mercy for Today,” “Let Them Hate and Fear,” and the title track) are all catchy, epic, and executed to their most devastating effect. They wouldn’t seem out of place on a Black Dahlia Murder record, which is great, ’cause if more bands wrote songs as good as BDM’s, I’d be a much happier snarky blogger.

But then the fourth track, “Olympus is Forgotten,” comes along. There’s a gentle, soothing guitar and synths-as-strings intro. You might think that it’s just a brief respite from the killer-but-familiar melodeath songs you’ve been enjoying, but, really, it’s the overture for a whole new album. Because once the band kicks in on “Olympus is Forgotten,” The Farthest Reaches flies right off the fucking rails and shows its true colors as an album that is completely fucking fucknuts. And its fucknuttiness is what ensures its place as one of the strongest releases of the spring, and possibly the year.

The sharp edge, puzzle-pieced guitars, the nimble, limber, bass. the constantly-shifting drums; hail Satan, dude, THIS is the shit. The little jazzy break on “Facing the Gorgon” leads into some awesome dual guitar soloing, which suddenly explodes into a slam-your-friend’s-face-into-the-wall bridge; the way “Myocardial Infarction” slowly tightens its screws, like the not-so-gentle onset of anxiety; the schizophrenic structure of “Pandora’s Burden;” the FUCKING BASS on, well, pretty much the whole thing, but maybe especially at the start of “A Good Death” – that shit’ll make your balls rattle. The songs on The Farthest Reaches are, generally, pretty short – only album finale “The First, The Serpent” is over five minutes – and these creative flourishes make them play out like mini-prog masterpieces.

Of course, giving boners to tech heads isn’t the only thing that sets SOA apart from the pack. I’ve said it before and for good measure I’ll say it once more: you can be the shreddiest shredder on the face of the shreddin’ planet, but if you can’t write a decent song all you’ll get is a “No care ever” from anyone who masturbates less than ten times a day. New tech death bands are seemingly being formed on an hourly basis, but the vast majority of the time, those groups like to noodle more than a half-Italian/half-Asian chef. But Son of Aurelius have no such problem; they’re like the perfect mix of At the Gates and Necrophagist.

If anything, I wish Son of Aurelius allowed themselves to get even crazier. Do they have a Planetary Duality in there somewhere? I’d wager they do. The Farthest Reaches has been in my heavy rotation for weeks now, and I think these dudes have only just scratched the surface of their talents.

(4 outta 5 horns)


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