Band Line Up:
Algras – Vocals, Guitars, Music
Róbert Mester – Drums
S – Bass
Tibor Terbesi – Lead Guitar
Dávid Lőrincz – Keyboards
01. Ad Futuram Memoriam
02. From A Higher Reality
03. The Kingdom Of Nemesis
04. Trace To Beckoning Fade
05. Come And See
06. The Great Scorn
07. De Profundis
08. Funeral March For The Death Of The Earth
09. Adamante Notare
The Great Scorn is the third full-length album by Hungarian, black metal band Aornos. Formed in 2014, this project is essentially the brainchild of primary songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Algras.
In a contrast to the previous albums, which were both one-man undertakings, this recording is significant because it makes use of an expanded, “full” line up with four additional musicians. The benefit this gives to fans is it makes live performances a possibility for the first time in the band’s career, and judging by the slick performances on this album, that is quite an exciting proposition indeed.
Describing themselves as being for fans of 1349, Emperor and Ascension, Aornos’s take on Black Metal initially comes across as a fairly standard offering in a well served genre; but dig a little deeper and it becomes apparent there are some significant and unique elements that mark The Great Scorn out as an album to give some time and attention to. It certainly has a fair amount of replay value.
The album starts with a fade-in, which initially gives the effect of walking down a corridor and through a heavy door, to discover the band, in their rehearsal space, already deep into a solid, heavy, mid tempo stride. Dávid Lőrincz adds some ethereal keyboards to proceedings before things accelerate into the album’s first full song…
From A Higher Reality smashes from the speakers with all the lurching aggression of a lycanthrope in the grip of a full moon. Straight away, it’s clear that The Great Scorn has hit a sweet spot with the production. Clear and crisp enough that you can hear the individual parts, but there is a raw edge to this that ensures it retains a murky brutality.
Cutting through the grim battery is some excellent lead guitar playing from Tibor Terbesi. It is wild and idiosyncratic and stands as a re-occurring highlight throughout the album. That’s not to say this standard of musicianship isn’t matched by Róbert Mester’s deft drumming and some lively bass playing from the man who goes by the simple, single initial of S. The bass playing is worth highlighting for it’s unique, rubbery style. In several places, S glides and glissandos on what sounds like a fretless instrument. It gives the record a dimension that is rarely heard on other black metal albums and helps The Great Scorn stand out from the pack.
The Kingdom Of Nemesis continues the double bass drum onslaught as it underpins some particularly ferocious tremolo riffing. The track features a set of commanding, spoken word passages and the guitars and keyboards work together brilliantly to create a fully blackened soundscape. The addition of some carnival organ spices up the arrangement and adds to the twisted atmosphere.
Trace To The Beckoning demonstrates that Aornos can play at a steadier, measured tempo and still sound terrifying. Here, the band sound like Kvelertak jamming on some Darkthrone riffs. There is a punkier stomp. It’s four to the floor but with moments of progressive bass to peak the listener’s interest and provide a lift.
The faster tempos return on Come And See. This song has a crossover appeal and could almost be considered thrash if it weren’t for the icy keyboards. It has a rattling blast beat under Algras’ deranged vocal performance. His desperate howl teases us with another genre nod, and reminds this reviewer of sludge legends, Iron Monkey.
By the time we reach the title track of the album, we have been treated to some exemplary musicianship, all played with great enthusiasm. It’s a shame that the The Great Scorn doesn’t feel as exciting as the songs that have gone before it. In a jarring moment, it’s half- time stride with stabbing keyboards, gives way to what I can only describe as a country influenced, black metal hoedown! To be fair, it’s an interesting arrangement that makes for a unique moment on the album, but to this listener it represents a slight slip of Aornos’s enigmatic mask. The rest of the song chugs along with sufficient menace, but ultimately feels like a less inspired moment on the album. All that being said, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s a grower.
The gothic, keyboard interlude of De Profundus sets us up for the powerful gallop of Funeral March For The Death which crashes and crunches towards a whirlwind mid-section. It’s as much Maiden as it is Mayhem and climaxes on a doom tempo and some squealing, almost traditional metal guitar on the fade out.
The guitars are certainly a highlight on this record. Final track, Adamante Notare emphasises this with an off-kilter riff that punctuates the maelstrom. There are discordant melodies throughout, giving everything a suitably sinister atmosphere that the band manage to sustain across the album’s entire running time. The solos are nasty, Slayer-esque short, sharp blasts of twisted metal and this song’s offering is no exception. Underneath the riffing, the drums drive us towards the final moments, albeit through a confident but fairly conventional arrangement that leaves me feeling like The Great Scorn’s best moments are in the first half of the record.
Not such a bad thing, because it leaves me reaching for the play button for a repeat listen.