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I suppose this album deserves a special place in my collection just because my opinions and judgments concerning its aesthetic value, or - at the very least - its entertainment possibilities (related to its "originality"), have changed so many times over the years. When I first started listening to it I wasn't drawn into its material with much force, and so I didn't realize or feel with much emotion its immediacy, its ability to spontaneously capture the attention or mesmerize (which is so essential to what we eventually term "good music", its aptitude for transcendence) and seduce one's consciousness away from the present, one's controlling thoughts. This is to say the music itself did not have the ability to dominate consciousness or direct the imagination towards its own aims, its own sources and immediate desires for expression, release, transfiguration, or transference. Of course this was only my subjective opinion, and as a subjective value of experience or judgment, it of course had the ability to change over time, or change with my altered/transfigured consciousness or understanding. This is what eventually happened... as my feelings regarding this music shifted form and appearance over the course of a number of years. It was something inside of me that was changing, of course. The music wasn't distorted or "corrected" in any fashion.
In any case, to write "thrash" music in 1996 or 1999 or, indeed, in 2004 (as this band is currently still active), requires a few motives and satisfied directives or authentic, obvious principles, one of those being of course mimicry. In 2004 thrash metal is a throwback, an instant call for nostalgia, a relic and revenant - always having at least one foot in what has come before. The first order is to satisfy this desire for nostalgia, which means Aura Noir must refer to the past without openly repeating the work of other bands... but this is a pressure (the anxiety of influence, almost) which appears in almost every form of music... one's ability to evade or follow this anxiety and its directives is naturally linked to the outside interpretation of both the "naturalness" and eventual "originality" of one's music - which is to say, this anxiety and one's creative response to it (ignoring it, adjusting to it and incorporating it, transfiguring it, or accepting it and, like a master, immediately rising above it), ultimately determines both an objective placing of one's stylistic/aesthetic appearance within a timeframe (in the history of a steadily evolving art) and a subjective judgment of one's creativity, one's artistic powers. In metal, as in so many other art forms that are constantly aware of their evolution, aesthetic and progressive hierarchies, etc., nostalgia is both dangerous and potentially powerful as generations of enthusiasts peel away from the modern to embrace former responses, or new generations come into being that need to be introduced to older paradigms and methods through novel guises, contemporary filters and "interpretations". As always, a balance must be struck between aesthetic authenticity (faithfulness to the past and to the current spirit) and immediacy, or between the tested and proved true methodology of forms that have been absorbed into current aesthetics (and transfigured in their own evolution: subsumed, fractured, dissolved, digested), and "current" forms that speak to the present - both to novice and expert, experienced and amateur. This is a difficult act. I think I can safely say that most musicians who aim for nostalgia and immediacy, a grasp both of the past and the present, fall into promoting one side and one direction over the other - sometimes to the detriment of their own aesthetics, and to the detriment of their own ability to communicate. Outside of a "classic", or rigid, well-defined, ultimately aesthetically stagnant genre or form (with history as a dead preponderance, a conquering weight over one's head), it can only be difficult to originate this nostalgic/original balance in a musical system where each new creation is, in fact, its own innovative type, where each new individual creation is a new aesthetic, a new judgment and statement of approach in itself.
So in order to create their "new" thrash, which is just a constant turning away from the present (or the present of 1996-1999) and a glance towards the '80s German scene (specifically Sodom, Destruction, and Kreator, although I mainly mention Kreator just to hedge my bets), an eternal "looking away" or "looking askance", a half-turn while progressing through metal's evolution, one hand reaching towards the past and one held with trepidation towards the present (which is to say the immediate future), Aura Noir must press outmoded or inauthentic (for the present) paradigms through a younger, more violent and pressing aesthetic - one which is not creating constantly in its immediacy (as the forms have already been documented, archived, etc. by other bands 15 years before), but which is creating continuously by pressing the nostalgic into novel forms that strive both to reverence/reference the past and not repeat them verbatim... this is the balance of the retrogressive, as mentioned above. At its best, this aesthetic results in moving compositions ("Conqueror", "Caged Wrath"), at its worst the internal dynamic or balance fails, collapses, and results in segments that are either too "original" (which, not sticking to the overall aesthetic and nostalgic/original stance or pose, feel out of place) or too nostalgic... which is just stale repetition. Of course for the novice, this repetition might actually be something new... as always, it depends on the listener... but one must posit the awareness that Aura Noir must feel in realizing their own overt nostalgia or failure in achieving this essential balance, and the resulting lack of feeling in the playing. The questions this kind of material (or this kind of band, this approach, this aesthetic) always asks: is this authentic music? Is this a new genre with its own rules and compositional principles or expectations? Is it legitimate, aesthetically and emotionally - if not artistically - to look at the past constantly as one writes music for the present? Can outdated forms be brought into the present and dressed to suit current needs? Or are there "classic" forms in metal that are both old and new, nostalgic (directly evocative in themselves) and applicable to current needs? Is retrogressive metal a paradox?
My favorite parts, and the sort of segments that move this music past the mundane or strict repetition: the backwards-raking upward strumming shower of notes first at 1:39 in "Caged Wrath", which seem to immediately link this to Norwegian black metal, of course, derived from Thorns, and the minute switch in beat (incorporating the cymbal change) behind the swinging riff at 1:02 in "Conqueror". The drumming remains solid throughout, however, the throne being traded by Apollyon and Agressor (each one drums for the other's songs, as each sings on his own compositions). Blasphemer, of Mayhem fame, handles the single guitar with expert adequacy.
Ultimately, while I feel this album doesn't measure up to the violence, aggression, and breathtaking energy of its successor, it does have slow, quiet merits that sink into one's awareness and coalesce over time. It also serves as an interesting notice of the aesthetics that later reached a more pure (meaning more expressive, not simpler or more nostalgic) form on "Deep Tracts of Hell", of course... which I believe was this band's highpoint, their masterpiece.
"Destructive and agressive black metal that will take you as close to hell as possible." That line is on a promo item that came with the original pressings of this album and it sums it up nicely. This the crowning achievement of blackend thrash, every other band wishes they could be Aura Noir. It's fast, agressive, technical and garunteed to make you headbang.
There really isn't a bad moment on this album, but it starts perfectly. Sons Of Hades gives you no warning, no intro, nothing but nonstop black/thrash perfection. A funny side note is how Apollyon pronounces "Hades", he says "Hayds" haha. Conqueror follows up nicely, continuing the theme. Caged Wrath starts out with an awsome galloping riff that takes off into a razor sharp verse, but then slows down a bit for the bridge. The next few songs continue this style, changing it up a bit with the bridge.
The title track really shows off a nice dynamic, starting off slow and more quiet. It builds slowly for the first minute of the song then climaxes. The song then slows down gradually until it ends with the same riff it began with, very cool. The Pest is less thrashy than the rest, more blasting black metal.
Here is where the album shifts gears, and just in time. Another blazing thrash attack would start to get boring as pretty much every song before this point was exactly that. The One Who Smile doesn't do that, rather is a mid tempo riff fest that speeds up just at the right times. The slower riffs are just so heavy and create an atmosphere of sorrow. Destructor in kind of an inverse of the One Who Smile, it starts of fast and becomes crushingly mid paced. Fighting For Hell finishes off the album as a mid tempo monster that is just full of great riffs. The vocals on this one are of such urgency and power.
After listening to this I'm beaten by it's mastery of blackend thrash, really there isn't a single misstep on the whole thing. This shows how great second wave black metallers playing third wave thrash can be. It has everything you would want from both genres and nothing you wouldn't want. Get this now! EVERYONE!
From the first song to the last, this album is fucking relentless. It pulls you in, beats you with Black Thrash and throws you out. This is what Black Thrash is all about. Vocal assaults, sick solos, pounding drums are all aspects this album is drenched with. This is almost as amazing as Deströyer 666, which is the closest band it resembles. The only reason this band isn’t as great as the mighty Deströyer 666, is due to the lyrics, which are a bit weak in comparison. The song structures are definitely there, as is the brutality.
The songs are a bit forgettable due to the lack of catchy lyrics. However, what this album lacks in lyrical ability it makes up with sheer brutality and amazing instrumental performance and structure. Songs such as “Wretched Face of Evil” are an onslaught on anything nearby. The only two drawbacks I could point out are the lyrics, which aren’t too memorable, and the vocals, which in some parts lack that extra oomph that would make the album better, or simply don’t fit well with the overall feel of the song. For the most part, this doesn’t bother me, as the instrumentals make up for these minute deficiencies.
The best song is definitely “Black Thrash Attack.” The chorus is insanely catchy and heavy. Over and over you will keep singing, “It’s the Black Thrash Attack.” This is exactly what this album needed, catchy lyrics and memorable choruses a la Deströyer 666. Although I am criticizing this album more than I am praising it, do not be turned off, as this is an astonishing album. It’s definitely at the peak of it’s genre, and discography.
Every single song on this album is an assault in it’s own right. Powerful albums such as these are difficult to come by. Aura Noir, mixed excellent drumming with amazing solos & guitar work with harsh vigorous vocals and put it into one extraordinary album. Do not hinder in obtaining this album, as it’s a great addition to any collection, but most specifically to fans of Thrash, Black and Death Metal.
This is a must get for fans of Deströyer 666 and Black/Thrash Metal. Although it’s not quite up to their level, it’s still some kickass Metal that shouldn’t be passed up on. Get it, or miss out on the relentless Black Thrash Attack!!!!!
This is some excellent stuff! Mostly old school thrash, but there are elements of black metal in there as well, hence the title of the album, but it's more the vocals than anything else I find black-sounding. Apollyon's high-pitched, raspy snarls and screams define that side of things perfectly, and his evil fuzz bass rumbles underneath a volley of amazing, catchy riffing from both guitarists (including Rune "Blasphemer" Erickson of Mayhem). You'd never guess that this was an early 90s release (a bad time for metal in general, I always thought), with its righteous fist-pumping feel unafraid of trends and such.
Musically, we have a well-balanced mix of thrash, mid paced moments, doomier riffs, and all around good headbanging period wrapped up in a decent production that carries a good underground feel while being well-mixed enough to hear everybody well and clearly. Lyrically we're talking old school with titles like "Destructor", "Fighting For Hell" (with its great headbanging intro and middle part), "Wretched Face Of Evil", and "Sons Of Hades", and it fits perfectly. Dirge Rep's drumming is outstanding throughout the album, and only the occasional blast beat pops up as he mixes up the tempos perfectly and tightly. These guys are really damn good, and I am looking forward to hearing the rest of their stuff!