Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fiendish Nymph - Aenaon (2000)

Fiendish Nymph is perhaps best remembered not for its lascivious, alluring band moniker, but as the formative side project for the Greek pagan/folk troupe Daemonia Nymphe, which has been far more prolific through the new century thus far. Both had been established in the earlier 90s, and demos were released to a limited audience. The plan was likely to restrain the band's lighter, livelier and traditional elements to Daemonia, but then unleash their darker sides through this more obscure entity, though there is certainly some crossover here as far as instrumentation and general songwriting aesthetics. Another band to compare this sole full-length to would be early Kawir (To Cavirs), only I feel that Fiendish Nymph are better writers, and their lush folk and ambient segues are more fluid with the metallic components.

That said, we all know which of these two personas would persist, because Aenaon was the first and last album from Fiendish Nymph. It's also quite short, about 37 minutes including two mixes of "The Drowning of Syring", and all of the material here is essentially compiled from the band's demos in 1994-96, and their '98 single for The Sibyl of Elikona. Opener "Into the Abyss of Eternity" is a chaotic ambient track with horror sounds, strange gibberish, irritating groans and spacey madness; and "Katara" is a droning piece with keyboards, black screaming and a narrator who sounds indifferent to the schizophrenia surrounding him. Of the metal tracks, I definitely enjoyed the distant feel of "The Blazing Shades of Distant Moonlight" with its plodding pace, popping evil guitars and steady synthesizer against the grating, rasped vocals; and the more melodic, lushness of "The Drowning of Syring" with its rather brutal bridge dowsed in psychotic vocals and cutesy synths. I also got a real Celtic Frost or Therion vibe off "The Sybil of Elikona", another track worth hearing.

But I'd warn the curious party that the sound quality here is fairly lo-fi, and the various levels of the flutes, keyboards and vocals can often feel off balance, so if you're not compelled by cryptic and obscure demos of the pagan/black variety, this is probably not going to change that fact. Like Kawir's first album, Fiendish Nymph does a splendid job of transporting the listener to mythic glades and simpler times, and had they decided to develop this project further, who knows what the results could have been. Like Rotting Christ, Septic Flesh and Zemial, this is also a 'brother band'. Not that uncommon on the worldwide scale, maybe, but it's amazing how such a small scene produced so many bands anchored by a pair of siblings. Anyway, worth a listen if you're into Gothic, pagan, or folk black metal and don't mind crude production, but their other, surviving incarnation is far more exotic and memorable.

Verdict: Win [7/10]

No comments: