With a striking cover on their latest album ‘Majestic Heights, Melancholic Depths’ the French band Aldaaron surely managed to pique my interest. And to those that see resemblance to the Limbonic Art classic ‘Moon in the Scorpio’, the good news is that there is some minor overlap with that Norwegian band. That mostly lies in the blistering pace of the programmed drums and frantic melodies. But outside a few atmospheric keyboards here and there, Aldaaron is better compared to Black Metal from the scene of Limbonic Art’s neighbors, namely Sweden.
Most of the elements heard on ‘Majestic Heights, Melancholic Depths’, and on the preceding album for that matter, could be described as a mix of the pace of Dark Funeral with the melodic emphasis of in particular Dawn, but certainly also Dissection, Mörk Gryning and Sacramentum. There is a hint of the later and more epic sound of Immortal in the music of Aldaaron as well, which surfaces most obviously in ‘Les tambours et le fer’, but to be fair that track is mostly a little of an outlier on the album in terms of style. Instead, Aldaaron employs meandering melodies upon a backdrop of pummeling drums, in which the drums vary quite a bit and melodies are hypnotic in their repetitive nature. It’s here that the proximity to the sound of Dawn comes from, with a song like ‘Impassibles cénotaphes’ approaching the majesty of the song ‘Malediction Murder’ off the ‘Slaughtersun’ album. Although, that’s not entirely true as Aldaaron comes even closer to Dawn in their interpretation of the song ‘The Knell and the World’. Not settling for merely a cover, Aldaaron does an excellent job by taking fragments of the lyrics and melodies of that song and crafting a new song that fits well within their own style. A great example of how a cover can be extremely interesting when done with respect for the original band, but also for the journey the performing act themselves have taken.
Would I change anything on the album? Probably yes. I think the drum sound on ‘Majestic Heights, Melancholic Depths’ is a little bit too plastic, and the often high pace of these drums sometimes drowns the atmosphere of the guitar melodies and sporadic keyboards. But I think the band has improved significantly since their previous album ’Arcane Mountain Cult’. In particular the way how ‘Monti vagus’ fades into the instrumental and almost bluesy ‘Voyageur des cimes’ which then reaches its climax in ‘Chroniques des jours d’alors’ is done splendidly. It’s here that Aldaaron’s knack for writing supreme melodies and harmonies together with an at times epic, at other times melancholic atmosphere shines through in all its glory. And with that, the title ‘Majestic Heights, Melancholic Depths’ seems a rather apt description of the atmosphere of the music contained within. Those that love fast pace melodic Black Metal from the Swedish cool will be sure to find a lot to love on this album.