By Andrew Bansal
Norwegian black/thrash trio Aura Noir have maintained a cult status in the extreme metal universe over the past 19 years, and remained prolific throughout this period, releasing four full-length studio albums interspersed with a multitude of demos, EPs, splits and a live album. With their last full-length release “Hades Rise”, the band succeeded to a large extent in breaking out of the European underground, and subsequently made their first visits to North America in 2011. Inspired by a fan base that’s now stronger than ever, Aura Noir are ready to present their fifth full-length album “Out To Die”.
Based on a few thorough listens, I would say Aura Noir have unleashed yet another beast of an album which is even stronger, even more fierce than past full-length releases. It will certainly please diehard fans, but in addition, it should garner them a whole new horde of followers. The North American touring activities of last year seem to have helped in the creative process of this album. As a result of playing their music on stage a lot more frequently than they did on the odd European festival appearance in the past, the follow-up album has turned out to be the next logical step in the musical repertoire, and surpasses most previous efforts, if not all.
Right from the blistering opener “Trenches” up until the final track of the album, there is never a dull moment. As an admirer of the Teutonic thrash scene, I find these tunes very much to my liking, and even though the band have always drawn inspiration from that style of thrash, they appear to have incorporated it more significantly on this album than ever before. If you call yourself a fan of bands like Kreator and Sodom, your ears will be pleased by Aura Noir’s “Out To Die”.
Before I listened to this album for the first time, I was a little apprehensive about the variety it would have, or lack of, thinking that it might be a bit one-dimensional simply because of the nature of this musical style. But I was pleasantly surprised to note that while most of the songs are similar in tempo, each one has an identity of its own and after a few listens of the whole album, I could definitely tell the songs apart. Six of the eight tracks on this thrashtastic 33-minute effort hit the listener hard with unbridled speed and force. “The Grin And The Gallows” and “Priest’s Hellish Fiend” are much slower tunes that carry the same amount of intensity as the other six, but change up the pace excellently at opportune moments in the album, making it a well-rounded album which keeps the listener’s attention intact for its entirety.
Besides the aforementioned Teutonic thrash elements, Aura Noir have also infused the kind of old-school thrash that reminds me of Slayer and Venom. But aside from demonstrating these influences, the band adds their own touch of evil, and delivers it with raw, hellish aggression. The production of the album also has to be lauded, because the sound is raw enough to capture the essence of the musical style, but at the same time clean enough to render it listenable and not overly harsh on the ears.
Overall, Aura Noir’s “Out To Die” is a gloriously unabated blackened thrash attack, a worthwhile purchase for extreme metal fans and a set of tunes that will make Aura Noir a must-see live band in 2012.
Record Label: Indie Recordings
Release Date: March 23rd 2012 (Europe)/March 27th 2012 (US)
2. Fed To The Flames
4. The Grin From The Gallows
6. Priest’s Hellish Fiend
8. Out To Die