PICK OF THE WEEK: Aura Noir keep vintage edge on virulent black thrash with brutal ‘Aura Noire’

There has been a ton of sophistication and advancements in the playing of heavy metal. Sub-genres have spawned their own mini-sub-genres, there are sounds and methods the originators of the style never could have comprehended, and most of this has led people to fight about what’s genuine and what should be tossed from metal’s circles.

All of that is super fun and has helped metal grow, but raw, no-nonsense expressions still have a place within the sound’s mighty halls, and Norwegian thrashers Aura Noir are ensuring the roots and the original fires never are forgotten. For the past 25 years, this band has delivered violent, menacing records that get right to the point, and on “Aura Noire,” the group’s sixth album, they unload nine songs in just under 33 minutes that don’t fuck around and go right for the throat. They’ve always dwelled in the same bloody waters that once nourished Venom, Celtic Frost, Voivod, and Nifelheim, and that hasn’t changed at all on this splattering record. But just because the band hasn’t really changed their formula much doesn’t mean this is as lot of the same old stuff. The band—bassist/vocalist Aggressor, guitarist Blasphemer, and drummer/vocalist Apollyon—maintains their brash, jagged edges, and these songs sound as vital and punishing as anything in their stellar catalog.

“Dark Lung of the Storm” begins raw as a scraped knee with a chugging tempo and riffs spiraling. The vocals burst and are coated with soot, as Aggressor howls, “The hillsides are in flames!” as he stares down the ghosts of war. The track comes to a fast, fiery end, barreling into “Grave Dweller” that crushes and has an odd feel to it. The playing is rupturing and punishing, while the band races into full speed, taking everything down with them to the blasting finish. “Hell’s Lost Chambers” pulls back the pace just a bit, but it’s still heavy as hell. Virulent cries and a clobbering base lead the way, then the song nearly fades, save for a single guitar relighting the blaze. The track reopens, regains its assault stance, and punches out your lights. “The Obscuration” is fast as hell from the start, with riffs firing away, the vocals spat speedily, and complete chaos devouring everything. The track flies by, leaving you a heaping mess.

“Demoniac Flow” also shows off its space and classic-style guitar work, as the melodies twist and turn, and misery-inducing growls lead a trail of carved flesh and shattered bones. “Shades Ablaze” have the riffs chewing the earth beneath it, raspy growls adding salt to your wounds, and the pace later trudging over tar pits. The band goes off an attack that should leave you dizzy and bewildered before things end suddenly. “Mordant Wind” might as well have originated in 1985, as it sounds fresh from a dusty tape deck, with its raucous, yet simple chorus designed to shout back, and the sci-fi-splashed guitar work. The vocals are delivered like a message yelled right in your face, while some tremendous, old-style soloing caves in your chest, and the track comes to a massive end. “Cold Bone Grasp” hits the gas pedal all over, with the guitars splattering everywhere, violent crunching promising further bodily harm, and Aggressor wailing the title repeatedly as the song burns and leaves ash. The closing “Outro” is a last burst, with a thrashy riff intertwining with strange, mesmerizing melodies that slither to a sticky, sore end.

From their “Black Thrash Attack” debut through the entire run, Aura Noir have made black thrash and hellish noise that maintain a vintage edge and a bloody smear. “Aura Noire” is another dangerous adventure with a band that always delivers the goods and does again on this 33-minute mauler. Metal can keep pushing its boundaries, but we need bands such as Aura Noir to remind that the roots remain bloody good as well.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/auranoirofficial/

To buy the album, go here: https://shop.indierecordings.no/collections/preorders

For more on the label, go here: www.indierecordings.no

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