Released: 2006, Nightsky Studios
Aurora Borealis, or more rightly, Ron Vento, has been around for quite a few years now. It’s been well over 10 years since the first demo was released and not much less since the first full-length album, PRAISE THE ARCHAIC LIGHTS EMBRACE, was self-released in 1998. All the while Ron Vento has been releasing albums under the Aurora Borealis name with very little appreciation and apparently not much label attention either. Here in 2006 Ron has teamed up with past drummer Tony Laureano (ex-Nile, Internecine, and a host of others) to release a new album, yet again with no label support.
RELINQUISH is the new album from Aurora Borealis. If you’ve never heard the name before, I thoroughly suggest you get acquainted as it’s quite obvious from my many listens to this new album that Ron Vento has more talent than much of the current “extreme metal” scene has combined. Ron has created a vicious blend of death, black, and thrash metal to create something special. On this release, Ron Vento does everything but play drums as he also engineered, produced, mixed and mastered the album and he’s obviously no slouch at any of the jobs Ron performed on the album. The production is quite clear, yet not too pristine. The drums are quite dry and surprisingly the bass drums don’t sound triggered to hell and don’t cut through the music, which would have made the album par for the course as far as the band’s contemporaries go.
In “Myths of the Light” the arsenal is laid flat out on the table; blasting, aggressive drums and rough, yet melodic guitar work together underneath the upper pitched raspy death/black vocals. Later in the track a much more odd melody voice is found, in an almost dissonant Voivodian section that utilizes an almost constant array of drum fills before coming back into the more militant blasts. Lyrically the song is quite impressive, taking an interesting look at the Aurora Borealis. A much more “black metal” sense of melody exerts itself in “Let the Games Begin”. A swirling melody and very tremolo heavy guitar riffs become extremely important here. It becomes evident quickly into these two opening tracks that Aurora Borealis may not be the one trick pony many extreme bands are, usually there’s two speeds, one being fast, the other being faster but the slower sections that show themselves in “Let the Games Begin” with feigned crowd chanting really gives some character.
“Ravaged by Fire” brings another immediate change, the opening being far more rooted in thrash metal. Especially that 1-2 beat though things develop and oscillate between death and black sections through lots of drum fills that smooth over the rough edges. Impressively, Tony Laureano is able to play it straight here, giving the song room to breathe when it requires and is able to overdo it when called for (I’m only used to him playing in Nile and am used to the over the top performance Nile requires). “The Red Flag” starts off simple enough, maybe something you’d hear from your standard modern thrash band with following drums but when things slowly start to morph, you can see things have a much different vibe here. Especially when the standard bay area thrash break comes in at 1:13 and things start to build up. The tremolo riffs take hold in “Tonight We Feast”; this is nearly foot stomping pace for the riffs, even though the bass drums are pounding along at a steady pace.
This is my first experience with Aurora Borealis and I’m sure that many who read this review may have never listened to the band before. I strongly urge you to do so, even if you may not be a fan of bands on the more extreme end of things as the song writing is strong as hell. It really is a shame that it’s taken this long for the band to get to me…