Reviewed: April, 2018
Released: 2018 Indie Recordings
Rating: 4.5 / 5
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
The self-proclaimed “ugliest band in the world” get their patented “black thrash attack” back, well, on the attack again with their first album in six years. And as the trio mark their 25th anniversary this year, they show little sign of slowing down – perhaps invigorated by a relatively robust, at least by their standards, touring schedule over the past few years.
Aura Noire is a rather frenetic half-hour plus of gnashing riffs from former Mayhem guitarist Blasphemer, propulsive tempos and the gravely vocal back and forth of bassist/frontman Aggressor and drummer Apollyon (former bassist with Immortal). It’s loud, fast, ragged and freewheeling, often seeming like it might careen out of control but maintaining just enough hookiness to keep it on the rails.
As usual, Aura Noir’s clamor recalls Venom during their rough-and-tumble early ’80s heyday – especially in the barking, almost spoken cadence employed by both Aggressor and Apollyon – though without the satanic theatrics. The album has a very raw, live sound that is a nice change from the usual studio polish and perfectly captures the energy and fervor with which the band play.
“Dark Lung Of The Storm” gets things off to a bracing start and it’s off to the races from there. The sprawling chug of the six-plus-minute “Hell’s Lost Chambers” slows the pace for a stretch – despite Apollyon’s clattering drum fills – but “The Obscuration” get things moving right along again with its d-beat urgency and breathless vocals while “Demoniac Flow” charges ahead with double-bass rolls that are straight out of Motorhead’s “Overkill.”
“Shades Ablaze” starts off as the catchiest song here, buoyed by Blasphemer’s nifty hooks – abrasive though they may be – but quickly accelerates. Same goes for initially more deliberate “Mordant Wind,” which ends up blending vintage Voivod-like dissonance with Celtic Frost’s oomph.
Aura Noire delivers an exhilarating blast of down and dirty, unfettered thrash – black or no – by a band that obviously could give two shits about appearances and convention. And more power to them for it. If more acts were similarly less self-absorbed, metal would probably be a lot more fun and exciting.