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When I first laid eyes on the cover of Neptunian Maximalism’s debut album Éons, I was immediately gripped with a feeling that something especially massive was contained within. I was right -- it's a triple-disc effort with a runtime over two hours comprising a challenging journey through landscapes of drone, free jazz, and folk music. While not “metal” by the standard definition, Neptunian Maximalism still conjure an absolutely colossal sound that evokes heaviness in every sense of the word.

Éons’ structure arcs over its three discs, as each disc expresses a different aspect of Neptunian Maximalism’s diverse range. To the Earth embarks in a particularly grandiose fashion, with a pronounced ensemble of horns blaring confidently. Over its six tracks, this first part leans primarily toward the droney jazz side, with Neptunian Maximalism's compositions carrying an unhinged, almost improvisational feel throughout. Fans of music boasting a wide array of instrumentation will be right at home here, as the group immediately ground themselves in a vastly layered style that plunges listeners deep into a delirious drone-jazz orchestra.

Check out an exclusive full stream of Éons below before its Friday release date.

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To the Earth establishes two essential dimensions of Neptunian Maximalism’s personality: urgently pulsating, tribal-tinged percussion plus an otherworldly ambiance oozing of mythological influence. The former manifests in a variety of drums, cymbals, gongs, and similar instruments, while the latter comes out mostly in the chant-like vocals and the track titles. It also features the most wild and avant-garde music on Éons -- at times feeling like it's spontaneously generated and at risk of completely falling apart. That said, Neptunian Maximalism always elicit a feeling that their songwriting, while chaotic, is nonetheless deftly guided by an unseen hand of order.

Éons' second installment To the Moon sees the project moving their sound the closest it will come to more standard conventions. Dominated by the “Vajrabhairava” tracks, guitar enters the picture here for the first time, conjuring a noticeably heavier atmosphere laced with shades of doom and black metal influences. This is especially noticeable on the second “Vajrabhairava” track, a brief interlude in the larger whole but one that feels more like an extended guitar solo than anything.

The percussive element comes to its peak on To the Moon, propelled throughout by an unstoppable procession of drumming akin to a war march. The latter tracks also see the horns from earlier returning the forefront again, reinforcing the expansiveness of Neptunian Maximalism’s orchestral atmosphere.

Éons concludes with To the Sun, described by Neptunian Maximalism founder Guillaume Cazalet as “a solar drone opera.” It’s a fitting label, as this third disc is the one most embracing of drone-heavy, dark ambient songwriting. A feedback-laden wall of noise opens Éons’ final chapter on a more minimalistic note -- here, the instrumentation isn’t nearly as broad, and Neptunian Maximalism instead focus on formless compositions that gradually build to a crescendo like lava oozing from the mouth of a volcano. Embracing a more deconstructed form of songwriting, a pervasive sense of guidance throughout To the Sun rises, particularly via the saxophone. On “Heka Hou Sia,” for instance, while a thick fog of drone shrouds the bulk of the music, the sax still lights the way through Neptunian Maximalism’s dark ambient tunnels.

Although Éons' three sections branch in noticeably different directions stylistically, recurring motifs across them unify the songwriting and solidify Neptunian Maximalism’s distinct identity as a group. The horns and percussion are undoubtedly the vital ingredients in this massive recipe: the former maintain the towering, experimental jazz orchestra vibe, and the latter are crucial to establishing the tribal, folk-heavy atmosphere and propelling the music forward with a pressing sense of momentum.

The subdivision of Éons into separate discs ultimately comes as a smart move -- each one feels like a separate movement in some kind of surrealistic jazz opera.

For an album over 2 hours in length, Éons never appears to have any “filler” moments at all. Whether generated through improvisation or not, each track feels instilled with a distinct purpose, placed carefully in its respective position to better develop a certain idea or dimension of Neptunian Maximalism’s personality. The music is inclined heavily toward repetition, making it strikingly catchy as well, and it offers up a plethora of memorable melodies listeners are likely to take with them.

Neptunian Maximalism bring an opaque, demanding offering to the table that is by no means easily digestible. For those looking for a stimulating, exceptionally crafted journey with a wide range of dimensions to appreciate, Éons demands immediate attention, but delivers unlike hardly any other magnum opus of its kind.

-- Sahar Alzilu

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Éons releases June 26th via I, Voidhanger Records in digital and vinyl formats.

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