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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Review: Aurora Borealis – Prophecy Is the Mold in Which History Is Poured

Label: Hammerheart Records

Date: November 18th, 2022

I am of the opinion that day-to-day technological advancements are responsible for much of what’s wrong with music today. Hyper-production included. With a decent personal computer it is possible to become a musician overnight. No actual skill is required, though it is preferable to possess at least some. Minimal creative effort is a plus, though not putting any to good use is not a deal breaker. In a matter of days, you can easily become a superstar. Okay, there’s a couple of other requisites, but those are the obvious ones. Like the looks, some mystery and/or shock effect, clothes optional etc.

Sure, Aurora Borealis cannot buy any recognition with their sex appeal or cheap gimmicks. On the other hand, it is hard to assume they’ll be able to do so with this record either. The whole secret behind “Prophecy Is the Mold in Which History Is Poured” is in its sound. Other than that face-melting, ravaging and utterly brutal (albeit, a bit too clean) mountain of sound, there’s not much to discover on the new album by the acclaimed US extremists. Having been around since the mid-1990’s, they were bound to slip. Truth be told, I haven’t followed their work quite avidly in the past decade, so I have no idea if this is a temporary lack of form or something more permanent.

Whatever the case may be, Aurora Borealis keeps to the tested formula of mixing death and black metal. If you haven’t heard about the band before, you should be aware that I’m not talking about one of many Blasphemy / Von / Beherit worshippers. Not even in the new age of the sound, in the likes of Revenge, Bestial Warlust… The Americans keep to the overly technical sonority of Belphegor, Angelcorpse or Akercocke. Of course, they are much cleaner than Belphegor, much less progressive than Akercocke and not quite as aggressive as Angelcorpse. In other words, Aurora Borealis swims down the central stream and it shows in the feel you’re left with after the audition of “Prophecy Is the Mold in Which History Is Poured”.

Now, I’m not saying the new record is without its qualities. These pop-up on occasion, as to remind us that we’re still talking to persons capable of crafting some real vicious extreme metal. Unfortunate factor is that the viciousness remains, but that’s the one thing that remains, for the better part of the album. The technical side of Aurora Borealis overshadows whatever fine idea might be there, leaving it without room to breathe and develop into something more meaningful. Like in “Serenade of Designations”, where this beautiful lead guitar harmony layout gets smothered after just a couple of seconds by unrelenting wrath. That is the kind of fragment that deserved much more attention than it got. It could’ve made a difference. And it is not alone on this album, but the others are similarly treated.

This way the listeners’ focus disperses, making the recording hard to follow and even when the mainline is caught and followed through, “Prophecy Is the Mold in Which History Is Poured” is such an easy effort to forget while you launch into the next thing on the menu. Remember, there are albums going out minute after minute, so the name of the game is sticking out. Aurora Borealis failed to do so this time.

By the way, the highlight of the release is “Founding Fathers of Deception” which appears to have a somewhat political background (judging from the title, as I didn’t get the lyrics sheet), but there’s the unmistakable groove making it the most distinct piece the trio produced this time.

Basically, if you’re an old fan of the band, feel free to pass on this record. If you’re just getting to know Aurora Borealis, start from the beginning and work your way to the present day. But also feel free to skip if/when it goes dull.