The first time I heard Skepticism a long time ago during my melodeath days (don't we all have that phase?), I gave their 2003 release, Farmakon, a listen, and, of course, was bored to tears due to lack of catchy upbeat melodies and vocals that sound like angry kittens. This pretty much set my standard for funeral doom for years to come, until I tried immersing myself in the genre yet again, this time starting with the more logical beginner band (see my review of Shape of Despair’s “Shades Of…” for a more logical starting point) and moving from there.
Later 2007 came, four years later, and I felt it was time to listen to Skepticism again and see what I had been missing, and after seeing such positive reviews on the Aes EP, I thought I'd give the one-track-27-minute-long EP a spin.
To start off, in case you didn't notice from the length, 27 minutes is a LONG time. I suggest that if you want to listen to this, you have to dedicate your time to fully enjoy the atmospheres conveyed in this song. And, of course, since it is funeral doom, it is very SLOW and dirge-like.
The guitars are very powerful and crunchy, yet retain a relaxed feel throughout the song, not really in the forefront, but more of an atmospheric add-on. Very nice arpeggiated work is heard later-on.
The drums are very tribal-like, since the drummer has thrown away his sticks and instead use felt-mallets to give a more subtle and reverberated feel on his instrument. I think he could have splurged and gone out and get a Timpani like his contemporary, Stijn van Cauter of Until Death Overtakes Me (among other things), but that's just me. Still good in my book.
The keyboards are what make Skepticism...Skepticism. The symphonic arrangements displayed throughout the band's entire discography set a unique yet still despondent atmosphere in every song. These keys add a lot of bombast to the song and are able to make some parts more dynamic, adding on to the song and keeping it interesting.
The vocals are slow, LOW, and very mournful. His trademark breathy guttural moans and roars resemble the groans of an ancient giant, lumbering in the frozen dead of night. Very raw, thundering and emotional vocals; they add on atmosphere in spades.
Overall, this EP is nothing short of amazing, though I suggest you really sit down and listen to it all the way through to fully appreciate it for what it is.