Rating:
8.5
Auriga - Reflection Of The Majestic
12 February 2014


01. IC 405 (The Flaming Star)
02. Solitude In The Infinite Space
03. Transcend Into Obsolescence
04. IC 410
05. Bearer Of The Wondering Stars
06. Capella


Warning: reviewer shares same heritage as band. Review w̶i̶l̶l̶ ̶d̶e̶f̶i̶n̶i̶t̶e̶l̶y̶ ̶ may contain bias.

Ambient black metal has always been a pretty hit or miss style with me, and I've always felt as though a lot of its bands don't plunge as fully into the aesthetic of it as would be preferable. A few relaxed moments here and there, maybe some keyboard effects, but then it's back to the usual blast beats, tremolo picking, and shrieked vocals, and the whole technique leaves the impression that it's rather underdeveloped. Fortunately, however, there are a good handful of bands that embrace more of a 50/50 ratio (if not higher) between their ambient and BM elements, and this year, Lebanon's own Auriga are adding themselves to the list as one of them with their debut.

The key word with Reflection Of The Majestic is sophistication, perhaps in a patient, attentive manner. Auriga are in no rush when it comes to getting any sort of intensity going here, and they're quite content to hypnotize and keep you waiting before doing so. A large chunk of the album, including the first two tracks, is almost completely ambiance, a spacey trance state of floating around black holes and Klendathu hordes that conjures slight thoughts of bands like Darkspace and Midnight Odyssey. While this technique may strike some listeners as overbearing (indeed, it does appear to dwarf the actual black metal at points), like a good symphony, it goes a long way towards building up a great atmosphere before the real action gets going.

Yet even when the black metal does appear, it's still not balls-to-the-wall fury, as one might expect. "Transcend Into Obsolescence" is likely the fastest track of the album, but even so, it dances back and forth between this and a more moderate pacing as it progresses, further enhanced by the ambient elements from before, albeit in a much more subtle manner. For fans of slower, perhaps heavier forms of black metal, this style of execution will without question be a delight. Not only does it provide a great contrast to the instrumental tracks, but it maintains an aggressive edge without losing the more engaging, spacey atmosphere. For a lot of atmospheric and ambient black metal bands, such a technique tends to get lost when they increase tempo and go towards a more orthodox type of sound, but for Auriga this is of little to no issue.

In short, Reflection Of The Majestic is a definite must listen to for fans of more atmospheric forms of black metal, especially if you've been digging the more spacey vibes that've been making their way into a good number of bands within the subgenre lately. Listening to Auriga reminds me a lot of the first time I checked out Urfaust: not so much in sound, but in the sense that both bands have a lot of non-black metal elements to enhance their songwriting (some tracks even being purely limited to said elements), yet still manage to maintain an unquestionably BM aesthetic. These guys are doing our ancestry quite proud, and as this debut has set a pretty great standard for them, I can't wait to see what they do next.

Hail to the heirs of Phoenicia!

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 9


 



Written on 18.05.2014 by
Apothecary
"Show me a sane man, and I will cure him for you"
-Carl Jung
More reviews by Apothecary ››



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Draugen - 19.05.2014 at 13:51  
Seems like something right up my alley. Nice review!
Erik M. - 20.05.2014 at 23:03  
Will be checking this out soon. Thanks for getting it to my attention.
Apothecary - 20.05.2014 at 23:11  
Written by Erik M. on 20.05.2014 at 23:03

Will be checking this out soon. Thanks for getting it to my attention.

Any time. It is indeed quite good, I can see you really enjoying this if you liked the recent Spectral Lore. Not that up to par, but it's within the same general realm.

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