January 17, 2024

Aeonian Sorrow is a doom metal band formed in 2015 by Greek and Finnish musicians. Their very first single Forever Misery was released in 2017, the title rather setting the scene for their signature style, and paving the way for their first full-length release Into The Eternity A Moment, this hitting the decks in 2018. It has to be said this debut album was described by many as one of the most cathartic and melancholic records of that year – a project of doom, atmospheric and epic sounds describing the eternal sorrow and misery above the earth when our human instincts and under the ownership of grief and pain….after all, ‘Aeonian’ does mean Eternal….

However! mindful of the band’s make-up, don’t be completely put off by all the gloomy forbodings! – this is a tight-knit four/five-some with a distinct feel of Nicoletta Rosellini’s Walk in Darkness, definitely influenced by HIM and perhaps blended with a touch of Katatonia? You begin to get my drift – there’s some beautifully orchestrated heavy doom-rock in here!

Aeonian Sorrow are:
Joel Notkonen – Vocals
Gogo Melone – Vocals, songwriting, keyboards
Taneli Jämsä – Guitars
Achilleas Papagrigoriou – Drums
Jukka Jauhiainen – Guitars 
Oskar Englund – Session studio bass

2019 saw Aeonian Sorrow performing all around Europe, supporting Swallow The Sun and Oceans of Slumber. This tour honed their playing style, paving the way for a four-track EP called Life Without You released in early 2020. The music was essentially a continuation of the debut album, having the same heavy doom metal sound that people had come to expect. Changes in personnel followed before the single Anemos was released in July 2023, heralding this, their second full length album titled Katara, coming out in November 2023.

Katara takes its name and inspiration from the Katara Pass, a mountain pass in the Pindus mountains in northern Greece. According to the legend, Katara got its name from a local despot who around 1800 set out from Ioannina to go to Trikala city, but the bad weather in the area made it so difficult for him that he died on the way and he cursed the mountain. There are many tragic stories written about this pass, but on a more personal level the album Katara is also dedicated to the memory of Georgia and Michail, beloved grandparents of the band’s singer Gogo. 

The whole process of writing and recording the album took place across different times and places – for reasons that the songwriter Gogo explains very honestly and openly: “On a personal level, I’ve been through enough difficult changes in my life that it almost made it impossible to keep myself motivated to complete this album. I said several times that I didn’t want to do this and I almost didn’t. What kept me going was the reason I started this band and the promise I gave to the grandmother I lost back in 2020 – that our Katara album would be recorded in her memory and her husband’s memory too. It was done in memory of all the years I spent driving to those scary “Katara” roads to go see them. It was done for each song I wrote inside their empty house when they were gone, and I left to watch the walls and nothing more. On a music level, I think the band has also been through enough and faced the financial critical moments to where we had to take choices, a bit unusual for us, and find ways to make things happen without losing ourselves and our quality. The path to success is full of heavy stones and very lonely so we do what we can and continue writing music from our hearts.” 

So……with these heavyweight vibes in the background, onto the turntable went the record. Seven meaty slabs of smoothly arranged Heavy Doom, nicely written and punctuated with echoing piano work from Gogo. All these tracks are seven or eight minutes long, allowing each to build a real sense of mood. The opener Anemos sets out the band’s stall, painting a melancholy, atmospheric mood where power chords counter-balance sparse keys. Gogo’s voice soars cleanly above the synths and background beat, underlined by chunks of Metal. It’s a curiously heavy but gentle creation, almost soothing in a haunting, gothic way. It submerges your senses in a sort of slowly decaying embrace, before Joel’s Growl vocals punctuate the darker aspects. A decent scene-setter.

Elumia follows, casting the listener on a sea of emotions, ebbing and flowing with waves of regret, wistfulness, the same signature blend of gothic growls and sweetly swirling clean vocals, the heavyweight Metal trio behind them never getting in the way of the tale but still imposing a suitably deeply dark vibe. Again, it strongly reminds me of the heavier end of Walk In Darkness’ song-sets, that contrast of light and heavy. Ashes and Death manages to up the ante heaviness-wise, darkly menacing chords feeding even darker growl vocals – but there’s always a clarity, a melody floating above it all, haunting and entrancing you with a sense of elegiac cinema-scape.

Her Torment delves even more deeply into the dark corners of emotional turmoil, leaving nothing untouched with its ever-present monotonic chords, while Gogo’s voice still somehow gives you a lift, hope, warmth…..It’s not easy listening, mind! Next up is the album’s title track, a microcosm of the album’s core themes of death, destruction, and madness. It is a musical interpretation of a journey to the depths of the human soul – Dante’s Inferno springs to mind, there’s certainly no let-up on the doom-laden stakes – and maybe that’s the band’s main problem, in that for the uncommitted listener, it does all get a bit mono-tonic after thirty minutes or so? Unless you’re a hardy, fully signed-up Doom fan, this doesn’t exactly entice you to enter in…

Forbidden City continues the sense of immersion in dark musical imagination. At 6:22 minutes, it’s quite short by the band’s standards but still conjures the same black mental whirlpools, a hollow echoing mix creating a cavernous atmosphere. It had me thinking about pot-holers must feel deep underground! But I did love the middle section’s change of rhythm, and a touch of very tasty lead guitar work.

The album concludes with Ikuinen Suru, slowly and almost ponderously opening with sparse keys, haunting vocals again from Gogo. This is a real lament for people and places lost, a deeply emotional track that envelops the listener. It’s a slow-burner, gradually building an almost gothic operatic musical platform that – because of the counterpunching of Metal and soaring melody – again has real echoes for me of Walk In Darkness….which means it’s powerfully good stuff!

So: Three of these guys are Finnish, two are Greek – I wonder which are which!

Produced, mixed and mastered at Deep Noise Studios in Finland by Saku Moilanen who is also producing bands like Wolfheart, Before the Dawn, Kaunis Kuolematon, Red Moon Architect etc. It definitely has that darkly melodic Finnish feel, touching so many different musical levels, definitely worth a spin.

Following the release of Katara, Aeonian Sorrow embarked on a small European Tour in December 2023, alongside As The Sun Falls and Sanity Obscure. By all accounts it went down very well – here’s to the next time!