Review Summary: Lunar Aurora is back after 5 years with a well written mid-paced black metal riffer.
Lunar Aurora are back after a 5 year hiatus. In that time the lineup has changed quite a bit. While Aran remains at the core of the group, the other two members that were involved with Andacht (2007 LP which received overall positive reviews) are now gone and Lunar Aurora now again consists of its two founding members. Some changes in style are noticeable which is to be expected, given that Lunar Aurora have always had a bit of a polymorphic style in the bounds of the black metal genre. Hoagascht gives us a intelligent well made album that is up to the standard Lunar Aurora has established for itself over the years.
The album begins on a bit of a slow note. Spoken word and minimal electronics introduce the album, the intro is rather of an ambient persuasion and this themes carries throughout the album. Atmosphere is nothing new to this band and this album creates an immersive sound for the listener. The album is conceptually about the bands roots in the German state of Bavaria and the culture of the area. Lyrics are written in the dialect of the area and are a bit difficult to process even for a native speaker, though the core themes do come through string enough. The album does have a very personal sound, the album is less grim and cold than some of the other output of the band such as Zyklus and seems to have a more introspective mood to it, helped along by the slower paced sections that contemplate on minimal meditative ideas.
Production wise the work is solid. Rhythm guitars have the crunchy brittle sound that the Norwegians pioneered early in the 90s (Hvis Lyset Tar Oss comes to mind) and work nicely to fill the space between the rhythm of the drums and bass and the ethereal keyboard passages. Drums are well produced and competent, and generally hang around a mid paced beat who's simplicity gives space to the other instruments. Not just the sound, but the riffing and pacing remind of Burzum
prior to Varg's incarceration. Again atmosphere and pacing really take precedent on this album, everything is deliberate, and the monotony of endless double bass and blastbeats to tremolo guitars is tastefully avoided.
The albums vocals are less aggressive than prior efforts and are actually fairly discernible (assuming you speak German) setting this apart again from a standard fast-paced-illegible-screams black metal band (say 1349
or any other so called norsecore). The band has refactored the speed and fury of Andacht into a more calm yet equally well thought out album. Some who enjoyed Andacht may be disappointed but the parallels are there and those initially disappointed in this album should perhaps let it sit for a bit and give another spin at a latter point.
Again the pacing on the album is superb, the riffing is not complex but the compositions are well written, going from a heavy riffer to an empty synth section with minimal vocals and some interesting effects manipulation to keep the music engaging and the listener interested. Structures are also varied enough to give themselves away to a listener unless one actively charts the songs structure while listening to it, nothing of the riff 1 riff 2 riff 1 riff 2 formula here. Pair this with well thought out riffs that are complemented by keyboards for added effect and you have a formula for success. The only complaint would be that there seems to be a space for melodic exploration that the band doesn't explore to full potential. The chord progressions are a really solid base and are in themselves strong enough to carry the songs, but sometimes one finds oneself wishing that there would be a nice minimal melody over the progression. Or perhaps this minimalism in itself will satisfy listeners by giving space for thought. Either way be sure to check out this album if mid-paced black metal is something you like.