Aggelos return with their second album, Silentium, combining metal and doom with haunting female vocals and symphonic elements in a collection of songs that are meant to to be a cohesive concept but can stand on their own.
The South American metal scene seems to be vibrant and strong based on the number and variety of bands I’ve heard from there and now I can add Colombia to countries from which I’ve heard bands. Currently based in Medillin, Aggelos started in 2002 as a doom metal band with unique melodies and female vocals. Over time the band lineup changed a bit and the newer members brought in a shift toward a more gothic metal sound. In 2011 the band’s first album, Manto Purpúreos was released and the band has been working since then on the follow up album Silentium. The idea behind Silentium was to have it be a concept album, with every song communicating different states of mind and in the end the goal of the album is to communicate the message of the band and after all Aggelos means “messenger”.
Silentium opens up with a very calm and soothing almost symphonic-like beginning to “Yerushalaim”. A chorus of beautiful female vocals then begins and is joined by more keyboards and orchestral percussion. At this point, the new listener may be wondering about the album but then about three-quarters of the way through the song, metal guitars come in and set the stage for the rest of the album.
At the beginning of “Higuera seca” things are still not very clear about the overall sound of Aggelos, but the song does start with a cool guitar riff that eventually builds into a faster, more intense opening, setting the stage for the deep growled death metal vocals that then shift into a more raspy, near black metal tone, eventually joined by the haunting, clean female vocals. Keyboards and orchestration play a big role in the overall sound and steer the description of the music toward the symphonic. In some ways the combination of the beautiful female vocals with the male death metal vocals reminds me of the story Beauty and the Beast and this will play out throughout the album.
“Panis Vitae” was the first song I had heard from this album as it was available on Soundcloud before the lyric video for “Vivente”. The opening piano is beautiful and the driving guitar and drums that join in really work well together. Production is clean and the mixing is such that all the instruments can be heard. Again here we have the male deep death vocals followed by a higher tone and more gravelly death/black vocal that eventually is joined by the clean female vocals as the song shifts between fast and slow sections. Given the style of the music it does seem fitting that the song is not in English. Interestingly “Panis Vitae” would be Latin for bread of life, while Higuera seca is Spanish for dry fig tree, so there are several of the Romantic languages coming into play. That being said, they all have Biblical references, fitting with the band’s name that translates from Greek to mean “messenger.”
Songs like “Sententia” bring to mind the band actually sitting with a small orchestra or at least a string section and reinforce the idea of the band being more of a symphonic metal band with perhaps gothic undertones. The clean female vocals come to the forefront in “Noche Oscura” between the emotion in the voice and the somewhat darker tone tone in the music, the feeling of a dark night is conveyed even before the male vocals arrive or the extended piano section begins.
“Vivente” is only the second song on the album that begins with the metal guitars and with the accompanying keyboards has a bit of an epic feel. The song itself captures the essence of Aggelos’ sound. There is the driving metal , dark death growls and the beautiful clean female vocals that come over the top, and the transitions to and from acoustic and orchestral sections and metal ones.
Aggelos have pulled together a unique vision of symphonic, gothic metal on Silentium. The collection of songs designed to be both a concept album and be strong enough to stand on their own provide a somewhat unique experience for the listener as they bend and twist various genres in a somewhat dark and gothic manner that still conveys feelings of light and hope.
Written by John Jackson
2. Higuera Seca
3. Panis Vitae
5. Noche Oscura
6. Ergo Factum Silentium
Juan Esteban Londoño – Grunts and Screams
Natalia Soto – Guitars and vocals
Karol Giraldo – Bass and vocals
Jonathan Rueda – Keyboard and guitar
Record Label: Rottweiler Records, Jan. 2016
Lyric Video for ‘Vivente’
Video for ‘Panis Vitae’