Beauty is for fools! A cruel hallucination! Flowers grow in excrement, swans will bite you square in the choad and/or chonch, and that Hollywood dreamboat you’ve obsessed over for years spends as much time on the can as your uncle Gary.
Sophistication is the enemy! A FIST for you sophisticates! Leave the capes and top hats for King Diamond, swill wine from the sockets of a busted skull, and convince a 500lb shoat that truffles are buried beneath the badminton court in the middle of afternoon tea.
“Beauty may be skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone.” — Redd Foxx
!!BREEEEOOOORRRR BREEEEEEOOOORRRR WOOP WOOP WOOP¡¡
Metal is under gentle attack! Hooty flutes! Charm! Grandpa’s guitars! Commonplace gazing upon footwear!
Those already familiar with the band have a pretty good idea of what to expect: raw, old-fangled thrash that sounds as if it could rot walls whether it’s pushing full-throttle or mangling at a slower, more loose pace. The “black” portion of the thrash tag that steeped their early works still gets tromped out today, but the modern version of Aura Noir mostly hints black metal in the same way Teutonic thrash did when it laid the foundation way back in the mid-80s. Well, Germany alongside a handful of other rascals from Switzerland, North America, et al. At heart, Aura Noir reveal an honor student’s dedication toward the study and preservation of the sort of maliciousness mid-80s thrash and speed perfected, and it’s clear that the band’s principal design continues to honor that tradition.
Something particularly beneficial with regard to Aura Noire that’s likely to be appreciated right off the bat is the production. Beyond any doubt, this is the most ideal mixing and mastering job the band has experienced to date, and, as luck would have it, the promotional materials give zero indication of the party(/parties) responsible for accomplishing said advantage. Nevertheless, the production is glorious—an equal amount of spotlight placed on drums, bass (oh, glory to the Highest, you can hear the BASS on this record!) and the riffiest guitaring this side of Mt. Miland Petrozza, plus a clear, incredibly potent sense of live rawness that makes it sound as if dropping a needle to the record might very well deliver the band directly into your living room to rip through these songs with a demon’s intent. Be sure to plate some fresh snickerdoodles in advance.
ELEGANCE IN TOILET
The music Aura Noire serves up is a boozy brew that’s equal parts vulgar groove and jackhammering speed that’s further polluted by a scraping voice that sounds a bit like what one might imagine a guy named Nocturn O. Warrior would achieve while barking at a congregation about the comforts of going to Hell for eternity. So, yes, delightfully loathsome, and not terribly dissimilar at times to the speedier moments of Circle the Wagons era Darkthrone, but with a greater emphasis on coloring within the rigid lines of mid-80s thrash with just two crayons: fuck and you.
Some cuts emphasize velocity as mission one—the fiery second half of the succinct “Shades Ablaze” and the positively Frosty (in more ways than one) “Cold Bone Grasp,” for example, or the blast furnace homage to Power and Pain at the heart of the vital “The Obscuration,” a song that stands as an early contender for 2018’s coveted “Song Most Likely To Cause Unpleasant Aliens To Sidestep Earth In Fear Of Having Their Stupid Faces Rupture In Nuclear Fire Due To The Combustible Nature Of A Particularly Threatening Thrash Song” award.
Other tracks underscore a touch more darkness and allow the poison to soak in more gradually, and they also indulge a decidedly Voivodian sense of noisy panache to color the edges—the steely strike of “Mordant Wind,” for one, and the sensational “Hell’s Lost Chambers,” which features the album’s most memorable bass-run immediately following a relatively quiet and eerie midpoint.
Truth be told, picking out specific high-points on a record like this isn’t terribly easy because every song does the job of putting a boot to the neck with grumpy riffs, unhinged drumming, and loads of impolite woofing. The aggregate pattern is what’s crucial, and the whole of Aura Noire does a hell of a job of reminding the listener that the ugly side of life is always looming, and that a truth such as this doesn’t necessarily demand restraint. Embrace the gnarly, loose and madly raw side of life, my repulsive friends, and let Aura Noir provide the soundtrack for your journey into the cold dirt.