With the exception of the first two full lengths, Aura Noir’s albums have been fairly spaced out with plenty of time passing between each one. This year’s Aura Noire follows that trend, releasing six years after its predecessor Out to Die and once again showcasing the group’s razor sharp black/thrash. With just the right balance between blisteringly fast riffing and mid-tempo attacks, Aura Noir may not be deviating from their established formula but they really don’t need to when the riffs are this good.
Aura Noire keeps things fairly compact, with the nine tracks coming in at just over half an hour. This has always been an area where the band has excelled on each of their albums, as rather than padding out their material that stretches outwards to the point of repetition or incorporating unneeded filler the instrumentals hit hard with catchy guitar leads and then move on to the next idea. A considerable amount of the album is built for speed, and even when the band does slow down a bit they don’t linger on these elements for too long. Aura Noir has chosen to stick with what they do best and stylistically you’re unlikely to find anything that drastically deviates from their past discography or even black/thrash as a whole, but the riffs are so strong that this is an album listeners are likely to have on repeat for some time. Each track has a killer lead that gets your attention and sticks with you, and it has been some time since I’ve heard an album in this genre that doesn’t have some kind of lull or dull spot. I can also appreciate the trippy interlude around the halfway point of “Hell’s Lost Chambers” which almost feels like a bit of Virus influence has seeped in.
Apollyon and Aggressor have split vocals throughout Aura Noir’s previous material, but this time around Aggressor is the sole vocalist. This is one of the biggest differences between Aura Noire and its predecessors, but it’s certainly not a negative as the performance is as intense as one could possibly want. Aggressor’s pitch is instantly recognizable, and as someone that spent the last few years fully diving into his work with Virus it’s interesting to note just how different his approach is here. The rawness of his screams are perfectly suited to the instrumental tone throughout the album, and it really ups the energy level to its highest possible level.
Twenty-five years in Aura Noir is still offering up top notch black/thrash that’s filled with high energy riffing and hooks from beginning to end. Aura Noire captures some of the chaotic and frantic speed of the band’s earlier days while showcasing a refinement and attention to songwriting that demonstrates their experience. Where others in this genre have lost some of their momentum and released albums with too much filler Aura Noir keeps things lean, and as a result this is another of the year’s highlights. Aura Noire is out now on Indie Recordings.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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