Review Summary: Auras: hunted to hunter.
If you’re like me, you may have stumbled upon young metal outfit Auras surfing the "related artists" section of any conventional djent band online. Perhaps you’d heard of them after their unremarkable debut Panacea, and forgot they existed in an increasingly oversaturated metalcore scene; their freshman formula of “chug & melody” didn’t exactly insinuate identity or creativity. A few years later, Auras has grown some sharp teeth with a more confident EP release, Crestfallen, and fights for a seat at the table with the likes of Vildjharta and Meshuggah instead of the usual scraps sought by cheap imitators.
“Thrown”, the first of five tracks, starts with a quiet synth loop and some reverberated drumming. All at once, the entire quartet comes to life and crushes unsuspecting listeners with a breakneck-speed groove. The song is intricately heavy: the rhythms sporadic, songwriting unpredictable, and breakdowns well placed. “Thrown" doesn’t deviate far from the rest of Crestfallen’s sound; the entire record demands full attention by building up an unshakeable sense of urgency. Among the chaos, Auras does a great job giving listeners some gasps of air when needed. There’s some minor instrumental passages (“Terrene”), keyboard work (“Inordinate”, “Thrown”), and even a clean vocal feature on the final track (“Boundless”) that closes out the record on a subdued note. The departures from raw heaviness are accommodating additions to each song, even if only for a few moments.
Each member’s potential shines through Crestfallen, in particular on album highlight “Terrene”. Frontman Almeida is a beast of a vocalist here, shifting from guttural screams to shrieks seamlessly. The drumming sounds organic, and doesn’t simply orbit the guitar’s rhythm like an afterthought. The lead and rhythm guitars work together for a thicker, less brittle sound, and bass is actually audible. The production shouldn’t be overlooked either - there’s tasteful electronic bits woven all over the record. Whether it be an oscillating frequency to spice up a breakdown or a synth lick to complement a groove, it’s a welcome addition once in awhile and never draws from the instrumentation.
Although my expectations going into this EP were low, Auras shattered them with Crestfallen. Over my first few listens, I’ve likened it to a clever predator, systematically hunting its prey - it’s both enticing and punishing, refusing to let its victims breathe for long unlike the docile monotone nature of Panacea before it. It’s a worthy experience, and a quick listen that won’t be forgotten easily. Here’s to a successful LP followup.