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Boomkat Product Review:
A second full-length outing for all-star metal side project Aethenor, featuring Stephen O'Malley, Daniel O'Sullivan of Guapo, and Vincent De Roguin of Shora, "Betimes Black Cloudmasses" explores a death ambient aesthetic that isn't merely dominated by booming sub-bass drones. The album is divided into three pieces, each over ten minutes in length, and within these pieces the music shifts towards a variety of unexpected musical forms. While the conventional language of doom metal is always present in the record's lower frequency emissions, you'll hear experimental electronic elements jostling with frenetic jazz percussion and low-frequency tones. By the time you arrive at the second piece the jangling bell sounds and electronic pulses start to sound more like the kind of freeform improvisation you'd hear on a Supersilent record than from a metal sideproject. Then, in its final third the album gets more harmonically sophisticated thanks to some fluttering high-pitched electronics colouring the mix from halfway through. By this point it becomes apparent that you're not really listening to anything you could ever recognise as a metal band at all, and if it wasn't for the quiet, distant strains of electric guitar adding a little darkness in the background, this would sound like some vintage, dense soundtrack work. Brilliant stuff.