Sirius - Aeons of Magick - 4/5
Sirius is another little-known symphonic black metal act on Nocturnal Art Productions. They hail from Portugal (!) which does not strike me as the most conducive environment for black metal. This is their debut, which was released in 2000.
Their music bears some similarity to label-mates Limbonic Art and Odium, but not enough to make them unoriginal by any means. The greatest similarity is perhaps to Nightside Eclipse-era Emperor. The vocals remind me greatly of Ihsahn's squawks and shrieks from that era, and the haunting synths are ever present. Sirius however has heavier synths than Emperor ever did, and tends to play at a faster pace, especially drum-wise.
The overall atmosphere evoked by the release is dark, vast, and cosmic (Limbonic Art again springs to mind here). It is not difficult to visualize a journey through the darkness of space, or the Aurora Borealis shining overhead in the night sky while listening to this album. The cosmic, bombastic atmosphere is this release's greatest strength, and everything flows together extremely well to create it. Despite the extremely heavy synth presence, there are relatively few cheesy overdone moments here.
Perhaps the greatest highlight is the album opener, "Sidereal Mirror." This track beings with a cascading, spacey synth melody which is then broken by snarling vocals, and eventually churning guitar and blast-beats. The epic spacey atmosphere is firmly established here, and will continue throughout.
The second track, "The Collapsing Spheres of Time" opens with one of the albums few cheesy moments - a sort of growling laugh which has always struck me as ridiculous. The rest of this epic is well thought-out and varied though, with ominous spoken vocals making an appearance amid numerous tempo changes.
The third song, "Ethereal Flames of Chaos" has a particularly orchestral sound, taking obvious inspiration from Limbonic Art's early work. Combined with another series of tempo changes and oft-frenzied blast-beating, it works quite well. The fourth track, "The Stargate" is a rather relaxed and atmospheric instrumental which serves as a break in the middle of the album.
The second section of the album begins with a nice synth build-up in "Travelers of the Stellar Ocean." As a side note, this band has awesome song titles, which fit the atmosphere well. As of now I have not studied the lyrics, but I have no doubt that they continue the theme. More spoken vocals make appearances here, along with some particularly epic synth work.
The title track, "Aeons of Magick," is another long epic, with more tempo changes, spoken vocals, and epicness. Perhaps its best moment is the ominous slow-down in the middle, complete with hissing, whispered vocals. The final track, "Beyond the Scarlet Horizon," is a mournful instrumental which serves as a fitting end to the album.
Overall, this is an excellent symphonic BM album, with few flaws. Its one real weakness is that it can become repetitive in the second half, especially if you don't enjoy heavy synth-work. Highly recommended to fans of early Emperor, Limbonic Art, Apotheosis, Odium, early Dimmu, etc.
By. T. Mason