Review Summary: A well composed Viking/Death Metal act
In my recent forays into the more experimental/progressive side of heavy metal, I have come across many...distinct bands. One of which is Augury, a Viking/Death Metal band on Nuclear Blast records.
Going into the album based on the iTunes samples, I was wholly expecting a technical death metal band to kick in, largely due to the very present bass guitar. I wasn't completely wrong, the opening track "Aetheral" opens up with heavy riffs and excessive tremollo picking. Around halfway through "Simian Cattle," however, I was introduced to the Viking metal aspect of the group. Around this time the vocals shifted from a rather powerful death growl into a, chant?
Yes, the band goes from death metal to viking chants on the fly. But what is so damn impressive about this is that it actually both enhances the atmosphere and has no awkward transitions. The instrumentals quickly and easily accomplish the task of shifting gears, especially the drummer. Whenever it kicks into the Viking sound, the drum speeds up and the bass steps up to aptly evoke the feel of a Viking raid.
Speaking of the bass, let me get this quickly off my chest, THE BASSIST IN THIS GROUP IS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. Especially when we first hear him in "Simian Cattle," Dominic Lapointe knows the bass up, down, and sideways. Enhancing both the Viking sounds of some songs as well as the instrumental breaks in the death metal portions, the bassist both keeps the group together and keeps them going. This isn't to say the guitars or drums are bad, not at all. The guitarists have amazing chops here too, able to pull off highly intricate solos and switching time signatures throughout the riffs. The drummer is fantastic too, speeding up and slowing down when necessary to fit the parts of the song. Even better than most drummers is his ability to phrase certain areas of his drumming, increasing and decreasing his volume where appropriate. One of the greatest aspects of this band is when they drop the vocalist and go into a full on instrumental solo, or when they slow down with the instruments to raise the atmosphere that much more.
Now on to the vocalist. As mentioned above, Patrick Loisel has quite an impressive range. His death metal growl is deep and powerful, but has enough range so as not to become monotonous. I don't listen to enough Viking metal to really comment on his viking scream, but it serves the purposes of the album well enough that it works. What's really impressive is the sound in between the death metal growl and the Viking scream, which manages to both create a flow to the vocals and just sounds damn awesome. Oh, one more thing. The song "Brimstone Landscapes" probably has the best clean vocals I have ever heard mixed with an awesome accompanying black metal wail. It's really cool to listen to.
Simply stated, Augury has managed to blend two sub genres of metal, technical death metal and Viking metal, into one cohesive album with a lot of atmosphere and ambition. It takes a bit to adjust to the sound, but once you do, you'll completely be captivated by the craftsmanship of this album.