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The return... - 84%

nilgoun, March 11th, 2012

Hoagascht is the ninth record Lunar Aurora will release, which is quite impressive. The Bavarians never lost themselves in the same old jog like other bands, they managed to feature new, refreshing concepts and altered their style quite a bit from record to record while maintaining quality. The resonance they got, for nearly every record they released, is quite impressive, as all critics sung in the same tone: a positive one! So it’s quite sad to say, that Hoagascht won’t be able to step into the footsteps of its predecessors, but I guess it wouldn’t want to, either.

The guitars are, compared to previous records Lunar Aurora released, quite reduced and therefore only offering a basic fundament. This shifts the focus from catchy riffs to a catchy atmosphere, which seem to work quite well. The reduced guitar sound offers enough room for the drumset to freely evolve and it almost seems that the drums are setting the note. This wouldn’t be enough to make a fancy record and so some other elements are added. The most important would be the ubiqitous synthesizer sounds and the samples they use to set or alter the atmosphere according to their needs. The atmosphere is quite the same for all the songs, disregarding the special characteristics of each song. Therefore, every song is featuring a gloomy and mystic atmosphere which is implemented through an earthy/rustic sound. According to an interview (in german) Hoagascht features the thoughts of the band on their native home/region.

Exactly this is the reason, why the lyrics and song titles are held in an upper Bavarian dialect, which totally makes sense concerning their concept, but it also scared some people off. Fears concerning the featured dialect are totally out of place, as you won’t be able to understand the lyrics anyway, since they are done in a harsh, gurgling way. The tracks seem to have no real highlights on the first sight – well, sometimes even after you analyzed them totally – but on the second one you will discover the subtle synthesizer sounds, that are creating structures that are full of details. Another attempt to grant some depth is the usage of samples which are interwoven into the songs, trying to grant some change. Thos samples mostly feature well known elements like the noise of water, wind or tempests, but also some strange noises or the sound of owls yelling.

This often helps to keep things interesting and to intensify the atmosphere, but it sometimes advance to a disturbing sound, like the middle section of – the by hook or crook weaker – Wedaleichtn. Besides those interruptions of the arc of suspense and the mentioned lack of highlights there is not really much left to complain about. It would be quite the contrary, as I want to praise the programmed drums, that were done by Aran. Those are programmed with a lot of love for details and even feature slight changes in dynamic, so only really vigilant listeners will recognize that it’s not real, as only some little elements are conspicious (first of all all of the effect cymbals).

Conclusion:

The return of Lunar Aurora will not fail to leave its mark on the black metal scene – but it won’t hit it comet-like either. The record offers a really thick atmosphere and is quite well rounded as well. Although it has no real highlights on it, it hasn’t any real failures either, as only one or two songs are weaker than the others. Hoagascht won’t be able to surpass the majority of its predeccessors, but it will easily outperform others (like Mond). Although they changed their style another time, you still will be able to recognize the typical Lunar Aurora sound and if you loved their other records you should love this one, too – at least if you can free yourself from overdrawn expectations.
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Written for http://threnodies.com