Review Summary: Is that the kitchen sink flying in as well?...
Progressive Death Metal is a muddled genre. It has come to the point where any death metal band that throws in an acoustic passage or clean vocals is labeled "Progressive." If that isn't the case and a "death" metal band actually does contain many progressive elements, and use them effectively, oftentimes they forget to bring the death metal portion to the dinner table. Augury is a band, hailing from Canada of course, that manages to blend progressive elements into a definite death metal smoothie. The result is Concealed
, a Progressive, technical death metal album that is nothing short of brilliant. Every moment brings something fresh and interesting to the table. Doom, death, black, thrash, and folk metal elements can all be found in this amazingly powerful, refreshing beverage.
Vocally, this album is one of the most versatile albums around. The vocals are a contrast between brutal and beautiful. On the brutal side is lead vocalist, Patrick Loisel. His growls are guttural gurgles, his screams have that black-metal twang that feels just right, and his cleans, which are either Hetfield-esque yells that have just the right amount of melodic appeal or his clean, soft vocals, are super. Then there is the beautiful, Arianne Fleury. She has two styles, which provide a perfect compliment to Loisel, though her more operatic vocals are a tad less than amazing, her singing is surprisingly pleasant (at least to this reviewer) and more than makes up for it. Both vocalists keep the listener's on his or her toes throughout, always keeping things fresh.
The true nature of this beast is it's combining of each of its elements into one powerful package. The technical guitar work never feels like it's being technical for the sake of it. It manages to incorporate an "old-school" death metal feel while also throwing in a lot of jazz influenced panache. The crisp and clean guitars also add that necessary melodic factor. The drumming is blast-beat laden ferocity that can be blazingly fast, but is willing to relent when necessary. Then there's the 6-string. The bass is fantastic, both when shining in fills at the forefront, or when blending perfectly with the melodic nature of the music. It's audibility is superb, easily discernible throughout the album. In that same vein, the production of this album is outstanding in every aspect, making the layers and layers of sound created mind-blowing.
The progressive and risk-taking nature of this album puts it ahead of the other Progressive-Death Metal phony baloneys. Take "In Russian Dolls Universes." Beginning with the operatic female vocals, Loisel soon enters and delivers his most brutal lines of the album, this soon segues into a crisp, quick guitar solo which then ushers in the best vocals Fleury delivers on the album, backed by a peaceful section of cymbal tapping and clean guitar, which soon becomes a shiver inducing return to heaviness. Finally, another solo ends the track. So much happens in a short period of time yet everything feels perfectly-placed. Each song has its own outstanding moment. The opening of "Cosmic Migration," the rhythm assault stop/start conclusion of "Nocebo," the shred-fest ending of "Becoming God" and the entirety of the magnificent closer "...As Sea Devours Land." All of these amazing parts add that little extra wow-factor to the already magnificent meat and potatoes work of each track.
The counter-attack to the death metal onslaught comes in the form of clean and acoustic sections. On most Prog-Death Metal albums, the acoustic parts are like that guest who comes to the party and doesn't leave til 4 when everyone else was gone by 2. Even if it's enjoyable sometimes, a guest staying too long too much will become annoying. The first seven tracks have short acoustic sections here and there, that seemingly come out of nowhere, yet are transitioned into subtly, yet surprisingly well, and transitioned out of in usually brutal fashion. "The Lair of Purity" ushers in the more acoustically driven part of the album along with the interlude "From Eden Estranged..." Both, however, never get tedious and just when they are about to, WHAM!, a heavy barn burning part comes in to change things up. Augury knows how to use their clean sections, much like they do everything else, extremely well, and do so throughout the album
is a Prog-Death Metal achievement. Combining so many influences and ideas, the album manages to amaze at every level, while managing to never overwhelm. Augury throws everything at the listener, but in a way that remains both captivating and well-done. It demands the listener's attention at every moment and is both legitimately progressive and legitimately death metal. It is truly something to behold.
In Russian Dolls Universes
...As Sea Devours Land