ART OF EMPATHY – End Of I

Aenaos 2020

ART OF EMPATHY –
End Of I

Belgian maven of bleakness returns with a new dozen of doom-laden paeans to eternal damnation.

It took Jef Janssen an entire decade to begin roaming the Elysian fields of "Posthuman Decadence" once again, yet the religion-tinged constructs he scatters across that album’s follow-up are sonically magnificent, with plethora of nuances thrown in, and the cynicism-stricken maturity acquired during those years is manifested throughout. Although the lyrics on “End Of I” seem to reject solipsistic perception of the universe many artists of similar streak pursue, this record’s songs feel strangely warm, Satanic presence notwithstanding. As a result, they’re not depressive.

Of course, there’s a different kind of light emanating from opener “Where Souls Shine Brightest” which should rewrite “The Book of Genesis” and wrap the sounds of nature into ominous symphonic strings before Janssen’s whispered words darken the atmosphere even more, but acoustic strum and slow entrancing grow lift the gloom for the folksy element to fully unfold in the title track where romantic ivories and sweet vocals make an entrance. If the use of “human resources” can feel hilarious in such a context, it’s not difficult to see the links between various pieces on display, as a certain line in the “Here Comes Everybody” evokes “The Shining” and warns the listener about the peril of discarding one’s self.

While the epic, riff-infused and organ-oiled, march of “Their Playground” may suggest metal without actually whipping up the heavy genre, and the female-voice-hosting “Legion” offers an inspired waltz, the chorale solemnity of “Karma’s Little Helpers” is compromised due its too-predictable drift into murk, mostly instrumental “Cynicism Left For Dead” elegantly edging towards ennui. Still, the guitar-driven harmonies behind “Revelation Of Ignorance” are deeply moving, and finale “Hugging Strangers” will overturn the entire album’s idea with an upbeat, purely acoustic anthem of a global village.

“Be authentic and passionate,” implores Jef in the beginning, and that’s what he does here with a lot of gusto. It might lead to inferno, rather than paradise, but his quest is quite infectious.

***4/5

January 24, 2021

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  1. […] Aenaos 2020 Belgian maven of bleakness returns with a new dozen of doom-laden paeans to eternal damnation. It took Jef Janssen an entire decade to begin roaming the Elysian fields of “Posthuman Decadence” once again, yet the religion-tinged constructs he … Continue reading → […]

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