ÂGE ⱡ TOTAL, ÂGE ⱡ TOTAL (Soza, 2021)

Creating music is one of humanity’s most beautiful collaborative processes.

It is also a difficult and challenging journey as it requires the artist to be selfless in order to achieve the goals of the group. Working together has the power to create lasting relationships as well as ruining them.

What makes the self-titled debut from France’s AGE ǂ TOTAL so impressive is that it is a seamless collaboration of two bands, Endless Floods and Greyfell.

Endless Floods, from Bordeaux, makes an elongated drone-doom, with tracks regularly clocking in around 20 minutes long, whereas Greyfell, from Rouen, crafts viscous stoner metal that is heavily indebted to Sleep.

The two acts join forces to create a truly triumphant doom metal album that is highly psychedelic. Opening track “Armure” is a nearly 15-minute exercise in celestial doom. Airy synths swirl and clean guitars chime as the united forces sing in what could best be described as a metal choir.

This goes on for 5 minutes before heavily distorted guitars crash down from the heavens, opening the song to new paths of exploration.

From here, AGE ǂ TOTAL jams in thunderous fashion before reaching a climax that couples deafening riffs with a poppy arpeggiated synth line. It’s something that on paper seems risky, but they pull it off in stunning fashion.

The bands act as foils for one another, highlighting each other’s strengths while trimming the fat that is at times present in their own material. Where the drones of Endless Floods have a tendency to meander, Greyfell brings a sense of immediacy; where Greyfell can at times sound derivative of their influences, Endless Floods offers a spark of creativity.  

AGE ǂ TOTAL is by far the best work from either band. The music is patient and methodical in pace, letting things unfold naturally while not being afraid to spend time developing themes.

“Metal” is the band at its most concise. In just under 8 minutes, AGE ǂ TOTAL distills its sound as howling distortion, piercing leads, and haunting group vocals build toward the highlight of the album.

Halfway through the song, the band introduces a 2-note riff and spends the next three minutes in a mantra-like state as skittering guitars, pulsating drum fills, chiming bells, and wordless incantations are folded into the mix. The passage is arresting in its beauty and is a masterful execution of releasing tension. 

There is purpose in each choice that AGE ǂ TOTAL makes. Whether it’s spending 5 minutes working through circulating drums and distended bass in order to achieve a payoff of screeching horns as they do on the closing track “The Songbird,” or choosing to bookend the album with two colossal doom hymns, the band is in control of its destiny.  

AGE ǂ TOTAL finds Endless Floods and Greyfell in a harmonious state as the two bands work together to achieve heights they were unable to reach alone. Even if this is the result of a one time collaboration, we are all better for the effort that has been made.

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