A great modern day example of atmospheric black metal. Whether or not you believe in the simple aesthetics of black metal or the fact that the black metal genre can be so diverse within itself, there’s something always to appreciate in an act bringing modern day metal and a specific heritage together. Saor releases it’s sophomore under a different name than the debut, but the same focus on working towards an opus, pure and unrivaled by the shoe-gaze black metal trend. Aura showcases a lone performer bringing all their talent into a forward thinking, atmospheric release.
For most projects, there’s a fine line between writing a sophomore and recreating the buzz found on the debut. Saor’s debut, Roots received wide levels of praise, at a level which would create some difficulty for an act trying to improve or complement the first release. Aura doesn’t simply complement Roots, rather it’s the next chapter, fitting right into the story line Andy Marshall is creating.
Galvanized by the fact that this is this one man projects’ second record, Aura revels in a polished sound of a veteran act. It simply has a more matured composition than similar acts in the genre. Instrumentally everything is in its place. Let down by a simple mixing mishap, some of the lines become blurred between composition brilliance and amateurish production (something that has now been rectified and sounds all the better for it). The tracks themselves share a brilliance, bringing together modern metal and the heritage in which the music draws inspiration from. At times, Aura is pensive, reflecting on the influences that bring this record together. I find it hard to write about a record that is so subtlety contrasting, weaving new layers on old, in turn building on an already uplifting atmosphere. Take the album’s title track for example; at just under fourteen minutes, “Aura” captivates the listener its entire length. Smooth tones support hypnotic chants filling the atmosphere with hope, grandeur and mysticism before reaching out with an up-tempo winding of double kicks and simple leads. The track itself is so natural, nothing is forced or out of place.
Most will find Saor’s ability to re-create imagery with sound in a profound manner. Take a look at the album art – – natural hillsides covered in mist, a small clean river breaks the scenery in two parts before it is also lost in the mist. The Scottish heritage portrayed feels like it was made on those very hills. It’s not often a project will allow this sort of interaction between soundscape and art, but when both are put together, Aura takes on a new level, transcending the simple measures of music.
1. Children of the Mist
3. The Awakening
5. Pillars of the Earth