Grey Aura – Zwart Vierkant

Rating: 4.5/5
Released: 2021
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Band line-up:

Ruben Wijlacker – Guitar, Bass, Percussion, Vocals, Effects, Concept
Tjebbe Broek – Guitar, Bass, Percussion, Effects,
Bas van der Perk- Drums


1. Maria Segovia
2. Rookslierten, Flessen
3. Het Schuimspoor Van De Ramp
4. El Greco In Toledo
5. Parijs Is Een Portaal
6.De Onnoemelijke Verleidelijkheid Van De Bezwijkende Deugd
7.Sierlijke Schaduwmond



Grey Aura are an expansive atmospheric/post black metal band on Onism Productions who will be releasing their sophomore album ‘Zwart Vierkant’ on May 7th, 2021. The release is strongly linked to a novel written by the band’s frontman, Ruben Wijlacker, which tells the tale of an early 20th century painter who becomes captivated by the Russian art movement. The book also details his journey through Europe and the metamorphosis of his soul, spirit and dreams. Every song on the album is rife with mystery. The music is for fans of A Forest of Stars, Ved Buens Ende, and Laster.  

I have to say this is very well written and performed stuff. The beats and fills the drummer plays aren’t massively complicated, but he really does have a nice groove. Even when he hits the same drum repeatedly, he does so in such a way, you just want more. In a way I’m reminded of Slipknot’s debut album. The fills there are sometimes fairly straightforward, yet they still sound really cool. The drumming is fantastic throughout this album, in fact. Furthermore, the bass lines are consistently musical and adventurous without being flamboyant. Actually, all instrumentalists work beautifully together at all times, much like in a 70s prog band, but naturally much darker. Yes have turned bad. Sort of. Clearly that’s not exactly what most black metal fans will be expecting. The dynamics are just as daring. GA can be as tough as anyone, but also as gentle as a soft jazz band. ‘A jazz band??’

Yes. That’s what I said. On the subject of jazz, the switch from raging black metal to jazz (yes, jazz) with a walking bass line in ‘Parijs is een portaal’ is weird, but you don’t need me to tell you that. Would you believe it actually works?? THAT’S weird. Then it’s back to insanity in a somewhat shocking instant with the following track. Calmer vibes do get expanded upon later in the album, but for better or worse, they’re not in the same style. I guess that wasn’t part of the band’s vision, and I respect that. They seem to have mastered the art of musical composition. In fact I’d be surprised if there is a single note in the release that isn’t well judged. However, there is a difference between ‘musically correct’ and true catchiness, and the band could do with more of the latter.

In conclusion, this will be some of the strangest extreme music you’ll ever hear in places. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t sound random or like the band were showing off their musicality, the innovations are just a breath of fresh air that are approached and left with genuine skill. On the first track there is some really nice Spanish style acoustic guitar soloing, and THAT somehow makes sense, too. The album isn’t perfect, however. Again, it is somewhat lacking in really catchy hooks that stick in the mind. The band have a mastery of the complex stuff, but seem to have largely ignored the concept of good old simple fun. The third track does have a strong Arabic melody, but it really could do with more development or even basic repetition. Call me old fashioned (as in early 80s or before that), but I’d have liked some more clever vocal melodies to really make an intellectual release. All in all, strongly recommended!  

Review by Simon Wiedemann