Above Aurora – Path to Ruin

Rating: 2.5 / 5.0
Distributor/label: Pagan Records
Distributor/label URL: https://pagan-records.com/
Released: 2018
Buy Album [URL]: CD – http://tinyurl.com/yd7odduj Vinyl – http://tinyurl.com/yazwmttb
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/aboveaurorapl/

 Above Aurora - Path To Ruin
Above Aurora – Path To Ruin
Band line-up:

V. – vocals, guitars
D. – bass
O. – drums

  1. Delusional Disorder
  2. Abyssal Hades
  3. Path to Ruin

When it comes to Black Metal, ice, snow and the desolate mountains of northern Scandinavia sit in the forefront of the mind, pretty much the second largest BM cliché I can think of, the first needs no introduction. There’s good reason to broaden your locational associations (even if the ice and snow tropes still apply), especially when it comes to a recent spate of quality releases from Reykjavik. Yes, as implied, ‘Above Aurora’ hail from Iceland (Poznan to be precise). Before me I have their second release “Path to Ruin” (The follow-up to “Onwards Desolation” released in 2016) recorded at Studio Emissary, well known to have previously recorded the likes of Svartidauði, Zhrine, Slidhr and Myrkr (amongst others). The mixing and mastering left in the very capable hands of Stephen Lockhart.

‘Path to Ruin’ opens up with ‘Delusional Disorder’, which to me doesn’t strike me as the best first track they had on offer, but I understand why it’s here, it leads very well into ‘Abyssal Hades’. It takes you down a mid-slow paced progressive path that fraternizes with being uninspired. Critically, on its own merits, you wouldn’t pick it out to listen in isolation, so 5 minutes does push the listener’s engagement.

This release really starts with ‘Abyssal Hades’ throwing us straight into a mid-paced blast reminiscent of ‘At The Gates’. The vocals immediately hit as a strong point to me, the sound is very wide and encompassing. ‘V’ puts in an accomplished effort that as many have commented, reminds one of the more recent Polish BM movement. The guitar work on this track is competent, but not outstanding, the tone perhaps a little too high on the upper-mid side, but sonically has enough room and isn’t lost at any point. This track is reasonably solid overall and the riff progression works well, sounding moderately dissonant overall. D’s bass work is tight and has a nice punchy distorted tone when it finds room to poke through the mix.

Lastly ‘Path to Ruin’ is delivered unto us… opening with a soft-picked ringing guitar intro guiding us right into O’s solid mid-paced drum groove, further met by V’s trademark reverberated hollowed-howls. This track is a lot more catchy than the previous ones and holds the torch for the most memorable, along with the drummer feeling more adventurous with the snare timings. Half-way through we get an interlude featuring some French spoken word and a mournful dissonant horn arrangement, the horns waver in and out of the track from here on in. I applaud that for a track that’s almost 7 minutes, it didn’t feel too long, I wasn’t clock watching.

Overall, this mini-album sits awkwardly in the ‘fair to middling’ category, nothing distinctly bad, nothing really grabbing you and wanting you to launch into strong praise. Is this worth your time? Just about, but I place the band more in the ‘ones to watch’ category, this certainly doesn’t have the strength of longevity in it.

Review by Joel

Above Aurora