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(Originally posted by me to the Metal Music Archives: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/)
By the time I've caught on to Lunar Aurora, they've already split up and reformed; but I've found what I've listened to already so interesting that I was looking forward to their latest output Hoagascht. The band has downsized, only maintaining Aran on instruments and Whyrhd on vocals. Regardless, these two veterans march on and make a very strong atmospheric black metal album.
See the art? The owl, the tree, and the moon? These things fit the atmosphere very well. Throughout the entire album, I think of an owl flying through the forest under a full moon and a star filled sky. Compared to their previous entry, Andacht, the atmosphere on Hoagascht is much more consistent. One thing that boosts this is the much bigger role the keyboards play in this album compared to Andacht, provided that Andacht didn't need the keys as much since the lead guitar on that album was used as a very prominent instrument. That attribute isn't present in Hoagascht; the guitars are still layered, but there's no outstanding lead guitar. The keys here never make the music approach the boundaries of bombast though, and the guitars are the main instruments that carry the songs' melodies and tone; and the drums, while programmed, sound natural (especially when compared to the drums on Mond and Andacht) and go with the album well.
Though much of the music is played mid-paced, such as "Im Gartn" and "Geisterwoid", there are faster pieces like "Håbergoaß" and the ending of "Nachtuele". There's also the slower epic, emotional sounding "Sterna" which is probably my biggest favorite from the album. The only track I really have a problem with is "Wedaleichtn", which starts out fine but then cuts to a prolonged sample passage that feels like it takes up a third of the song or more; so we've got a little time waste, but it's just a little impurity in an otherwise really clear glass of water.
This album just falls short of a top tier ranking. It's not as great as Elixer of Sorrow or Andacht; but I definitely like it more than Mond, which was a good album itself. Hoagasht was a shift in the band's style though, and may bring a third era of the band as far as music goes. If so, I'm eager to see what all Lunar Aurora can do with it.