With a six year gap between albums one may have thought that Aura Noir had been (Hung) Out To Die but the trio are back like a waft of rotten air and that’s something I am more than happy about. After a couple of really challenging albums to review it’s great to have something that is more of a familiar territory to sink teeth in and you really know that Aura Noir are going to deliver a meaty black thrash attack with plenty of great grinding riffs before you even press play. Guess what, that’s pretty much what you get here but there’s no selling the band short as they do it so well and even though the formula is tried and tested they always deliver some killer tunes that never fail to disappoint. As far as the players are concerned it has been great watching Blasphemer develop ideas and expand musical range with latest outfit Earth Electric, he obviously has striven for something with a bit of beauty in as he did with Ave Inferi so getting back to roots with the ugliest band in the world seems the perfect other outlet for him. Aggressor’s history is a varied one and one not without drama and well documented misfortune. He still brings the warped strangeness into things spilling out from recent work in the excellent Virus and a history in seminal acts such as Ved Buens Ende, Cadaver and Dodheimsgard. Then there’s Apollyon who has walked a similar path but appears to be hitting things just in this outfit more recently. Put them together and you get the result with this kind of self-explanatory album title and 9 banging new numbers.
Charging out the traps single ‘Dark Lung Of The Storm’ destructively grooves in and tears and winds its way through with meaty and skewed guitar work and thumping drums. There’s a fair bit of some previously mentioned bands in its armoury along with a healthy dollop of old school Voivod in it. Vocals are guttural, ugly and gnarly. Aggressor’s stance is instantly familiar as he shouts and rants, hollering his parts out as the drums primitively thump along and the riffs fly out and strangle. Short sharp and incendiary as are most of these tracks, nothing overstays welcome, laying down things with beastly gravitas and moving on swiftly after having taken a gory chunk out the listeners ears. Songs like ‘Grave Dweller’ are as rancid as suggested and leave a foul taste in their juddering, jagged clamour. Indignant howls have plenty of unhinged madness about them, the death grunts may have been left out perhaps being too obvious for inclusion but the vocals have pure madness at their heart as they are literally shouted from the mausoleum rooftop. Expanding a song to 6 minutes allows more instrumental stealth as Hell’s Lost Chambers are explored and things sound totally natural as they plunder the tombs, vocals ever the more necrotic. The sound is organic with everything perfectly fleshed out in the mix, each aspect having total clarity and the uncluttered sound is perfect in its symmetry. There’s even a bit of a Killing Joke tribal thump found in this and when it slows and allows a shimmering piece of guitar work to sparkle out the arcane feeling and atmosphere really shines out albeit in a suitably stagnant moribund fashion. Ah here’s the death grunt! Having let things flow the savage full moon madness of ‘The Obscuration’ is a potent full on thrasher that goes for the throat with utterly merciless slashing riffs and a Venomous speed that is guaranteed to knock you off your feet. With the band poised to play London very soon I can see this causing maximum devastation as will the turbo-charged ‘Demoniac Flow’ full of metallic grit sounding like the bastard love child of Voivod’s Killing Technology and Cadaver’s Necrosis.
Although this has turned into a near track by track dissection you don’t really need that to continue. The tracks have versatility and own distinct definitions and are quick to invade the senses. There’s some excellent instrumental parts that are allowed to develop and the vocals are as distinct and grotesque as one could wish for. I guess ‘Shades Ablaze’ is the fastest number here building into a frantic welter of sound that comes near to tripping itself over and even the instrumental outro totally bangs you for 6. With the whole album done in a flighty 32 minutes this is going to drag you back again and again and totally delivers just what fans would expect and relish. Ugh!
(7.5/10 Pete Woods)