Hailing from Vancouver, these Lovecraftian inspired Death-heads are a new one to this reviewer.
Auroch’s debut album, ‘From Forgotten Worlds’, arrives after a number of smaller releases and is a reasonable attempt at poking their nose into the somewhat legendary cult that is the Canadian DM underground.
The band’s aim appears to be to meld the two most defining characteristics of Canadian Metal- technicality and barbarity.
In fairness to them, while this isn’t exactly outstanding they give it a fair old go.
Having apparently ditched their previous Thrash manifesto for an arguably more current, and some cynics might murmur ‘trendy’ Death Metal attack, what we get is a band who for the most part sound self-assured but occasionally stumble in their conquest for ultimate decimation.
They are technical without being tight enough or mind-blowing enough to worry the likes of Cryptopsy, but not really loose and unhinged enough to yet compete with the more savage and bestial multitudes currently bubbling up the world over.
A close comparison, geographically as well as sonically, would be Mitochondrion. However this album lacks the scope and song-writing nous that has propelled that band to the forefront of the underground’s consciousness. Still, they’re more or less in the right ball-park and repeated spins yield maximum results.
The band consistently show that they can pen a quality riff or ten, and as I listen I wonder is the production tripping the band up rather than the music. It’s full-bodied and heavy but they have sacrificed a bit of edge to allow the admittedly cool riffing to shine through.
The drums are mostly well delivered – but occasionally falter, slipping out of step with the riffs and while that can add charm when a more primitive approach is applied across the board, it feels a little amateurish in this context.
With a somewhat grottier mix those cracks may not have been so apparent, or indeed important.
The Lovecraftian influence isn’t felt here either. What immediately springs to mind when that author’s name is mentioned is a sense of antiquity, terror and mystery but Auroch don’t seem to be painting from that palette at all.
Classic-era Morbid Angel and Portal both manage to build that obscure nameless terror through stretchy, warped, shape-shifting riffs and slippery time signatures, building dense, tense waves of atmosphere with which to crush the listener.
The brutal and choppy attack of Auroch seems at odds with their claim to ‘pave the path for the coming of the most Ancient One’. It might seem pernickety of me to pull them up on that score seeing as they have the chops, but there is such a breadth of new and often brilliant Death Metal stewing in the depths that a band needs to really have all the angles worked out to make their presence felt.
The vocals stand out across the album, possessing a characterful bite that is vicious and dominant and haul the music at least in the direction of those subterranean caverns that good old H.P. was drawn to.
‘Talisman for Total Temporal Collapse’ shows what this band are capable of when on top of their game.
It’s blasting and feral and really bloody good, the bass and drums creating an impermeable barricade of snarling sound that manages to avoid the trap of merely sounding ‘brutal’. It has real feel to it and is followed up with another impressive, expressive, riffy monster in ‘Terra Akeldama’.
In terms of artwork there ciprofloxacin and amoxicillin isn’t a lot to say. The cover presents a dimly generic if atmospheric array of bones and looming, murky architecture that neither holds up to any close scrutiny nor compliments the tone of the album to any degree.
Ultimately though, it feels like the guys are on the right track. It’s just that with bands like Antediluvian, Dead Congregation and Swallowed, to name a tiny few, all pulling the surprisingly elastic corpse of DM in many interesting directions, these lads will have to work a little bit harder to get their teeth on that stinking carcass.
Still, this is worth a listen and depending on which path Auroch decide to follow, they could be on to a winner in future. Ones to watch.
3.2 / 5- Andrew Cunningham ::: 25/09/12