I could probably save both you and I a great deal of hassle by simply stating that the debut from Toronto, Ontario, Canada’s Autonoesis has The Riffs™. I could just mention a few, well-timed, brilliantly executed solos or how the songs progress without ever reaching too far into “capital P” Progressive territory. I could name drop The Chasm, Melechesh, Dissection, Quo Vadis, Death, and Dark Tranquility—to name but a few—as well-channeled influences and be done with it. Hell, if a recommendation is all you’re looking for, then yes, I recommend Autonoesis as worthy of your listening time. What I will attempt to do here, however, is convince you why a Name Your Price album on Bandcamp is worth investing $10 CAD for simply a digital copy and why Autonoesis deserves such support.
If that doesn’t catch, the German thrashing on “Ruins Of Heaven” sets up for the spike of furious hellfire soloing just a little over two minutes in. I mean, these mothers can SHRED. And not just on guitar: The fretless bass kicking off the mighty “Visions” throws some DiGiorgio-era Death into the sandbox. The guitars go fully interstellar as the barrage of hammer-ons over the breakdown shifts from left to right across the soundscape before giving way to a Bolt Thrower riff; seemingly out of left field, it just snaps right into place and feels just blasphemous enough to work. The way the styles switch tack across the track exudes progressive thought in songwriting—much like Death, the abrupt shifts just seem to work with one another, like clicking pieces of an ever-expanding puzzle into place. Of course, there are identifiable sources of inspiration when the songs are dissected, for example the riff about 2:45 into “Horrors Of Nothing” sounds like classic early Vader, but it’s what Autonoesis do with such inspirations that matters. It so effortlessly flows into the band’s vision and becomes much more than the sum of its parts. By the end of the song, it’s sounding nothing like the Vader bit, but the journey to the climactic solo feels natural and fluid.
With the build-up Autonoesis have created across their eponymous debut, it could only logically wrap with a crescendo of an ender, and closer “Death, And The Cosmic Return” fully delivers. Coming off the acoustic interlude of “Elegy,” the conclusion to the album feels separated from the rest, and it fits like a Power Glove™ in the context of the album. The electricity of the lead guitars is already popping over the tremolo intro before Autonoesis shifts between death and thrash riffing. The lightning fingerwork over the “ooooooo’s” of the synths hits transcendental levels that are only matched by the end of the track. The final five minutes of the record end on an almost optimistic note, as though seeing the grandeur of the infinite possibility of the cosmos and ultimately conquering of the fear of death. It’s reassuring in a way, that something lies beyond the bleakness of existence as the tremolo sweeps sparkle like an infinite display of stars across the blanket of the eternal void.
With so much praise for Autonoesis, there is but one detracting factor that holds it back: the production. It’s obviously a home-studio recording, and has a digitized, inorganic coldness (due in part to the use of a drum machine) that holds back the full potential of the band. They did a bang-up job with what they had (the guitar production is quite exceptional), but their talent is destined for much greater things. Some label needs to jump on Autonoesis post-haste and get these folks a proper recording budget, but until then, it is up to you, Dear Reader. They’ve got the chops and ambition to do some truly remarkable things, not just for death metal or black metal, but for metal as a whole. Autonoesis is something truly special; get this band a live drummer and a proper studio and do it yesterday. Autonoesis have created something that can be dissected and broken down into the sum of its parts, or comparisons can be drawn to their overarching approach to song construction—no matter what, it shows the potential to brush shoulders with some of the greats. Despite the limitations of production, Autonoesis is one exceptional debut that is overflowing with talent, both on the technical and creative ends. Throw them a few dollars – we need more of what they’re cooking with.