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Lunar Aurora – Hoagascht (2012) - 80%

Asag_Asakku, May 29th, 2012

Some resurrections are truly miraculous, and I’m not referring that of Jesus Christ. I'm rather evoking Bavarian band Lunar Aurora, who after six years of silence, returns with a new album called Hoagascht (2012). Founded in 1994 by Benjamin "Aran" König and Andreas "Whyrhd" Bauer, this band launched eight full lengths, all being atmospheric black metal classics, before separating in 2006, for private reasons. The story of the group is indeed punctuated with events that have nothing to do with their immense talent: frequent changes of musicians, many problems with labels (including two that failed simultaneously), etc. Anyone would have been tired of that. Yet it is with great disappointment that I learned the end of their adventure: Elixir of Sorrow (2004), Zyklus (2004), Mond (2005) and Andacht (2007) are still among - in my opinion – the best albums of the genre. Fast, even aggressive, bathing in gloomy atmospheres, these albums sketch the outlines of a dark world where death lurks.

Working now as a duo, Aran and Whyrhd resume the adventure of Lunar Aurora. Right from the introduction called Im Gartn, we recognize the band’s trademark, with its misty sonorities. But as the song progresses, we notice a difference with the style once practiced by our Bavarians: rather than relying on a brutal voice / guitars couple to carry the titles, they now rely more on atmospheres that give body and wrap the "metal" passages. The image of the owl flying over the forest depicted on the cover is not accidental. It announced the general theme of the album, which suggests an evening walk in the wooded mountains, at the mercy of the elements. Several songs also include sound clips evoking nature, like the cries of animals (owl, precisely, on Nachteule) or weather (a thunderstorm on Wedaleichtn). Writing is also much more nuanced and subtle than before, evidenced by the wide diversity of sequences and moods, especially on tunes like Geisterwoid and Reng. On learning that the battery was programmed on this album, I still had concerns, but they were quickly swept from the first listen. The sound is very close to a real instrument, to the point where I wonder how they did it! The band is also using a Bavarian dialect for all lyrics, giving a local flavour that is reminiscent of Windir and his job with Sognamål, an odd Norwegian dialect.

Hoagascht is perhaps a turning point in the career of Lunar Aurora. Long been a studio project only, the band may be seeking to develop a music more personal, more mature and less "black metal" than before. Given the result, I will never complain of such a change. This album takes us into the mountains of Bavaria, shrouded in mist, while listening to beautiful music. 8/10

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