Released: 2004, Tyrant Syndicate/Peaceville
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
There is something to be said for good black metal. Anyone can record something with a two-track recorder in their garage, throw in some blastbeats and sing about all the blasphemous clichés that come to mind, but it takes something special to weave a platter of blackened thrash like Aura Noir has done on their latest CD, THE MERCILESS. The debut offering on Tyrant Syndicate—a label helmed by black metal gods Darkthrone—is about as near to the best damn black metal album I have heard in a while. Combining equal parts Venom, Celtic Frost and Dark Angel, THE MERCILESS is Aura Noir’s third album and first in five years. The two main members sing and play all the instruments (Mayhem axeman, Blasphemer, rounds out the band) but the interesting thing about Aura Noir is that Apollyon (who also plays live guitar for Gorgoroth) writes, sings and plays everything on the even numbered tracks while Aggressor (an original member of Satyricon) does the same but on the odd numbered tracks! Darkthrone’s Fenriz and Nattefrost from Carpathian Forest also make guest appearances on the disc. At just under 28 minutes in length, THE MERCILESS is fast, brash and dark visit through Hell, but what a trip it is.
“Condor” is a furious, snarling track that easily could have come from Celtic Frost’s immortal MORBID TALES album. The blastbeats are a mile a minute and the vocals echo those of the mighty Tom G. Warrior. The mid-paced “Black Metal Law” is almost groovy in its production and reminds me a lot of early Venom in its raw beauty. Aggressor’s vocal delivery on this track is perfectly unrefined and really captures the essence of the track. “Hell’s Fire” contains some razor-sharp riffing and when listening to the track, you can almost feel the heat from Hades itself. There really is not a bad song on this CD and the five-year wait since releasing DEEP TRACTS OF HELL obviously let the band come up with some solid material.
How I never came upon Aura Noir before escapes me, but I will be checking out their other CDs because THE MERCILESS is just too good to be a fluke. If you like your metal black, thrashy, ugly and raw, DO NOT miss this CD.
KILLER KUTS: “Condor,” “Black Metal Law,” “Hell’s Fire,” “Funeral Thrash,” Sordid”