In Extreme Metal, despite being the forefront of creativity perhaps in any genre of music, things can often become too categorizable. It seems that in many ways this has become the case as of late as everything fits neatly into its Black Metal, Grindcore, Death Metal, or Doom home. The bands that leave a mark resonating across the scene are those that are able to marry up influences, sub-genres, and intentions to form something not derivative and wholly their own. Enter Poland’s Above Aurora. After 2016’s debut, Onwards Desolation, the band have returned with an EP entitled Path to Ruin. Hopefully, a teaser of more material yet to come, the band have created a sound all their own and one that seeps into one’s skin causing some preternatural reaction within which not only causes the music to continue to resonate within but leaves an indelible mark.
Though there are only three tracks on this EP, a lot of musical ground is covered and well-delivered. The album’s first track, “Delusional Disorder,” beings with a mid-paced solemn riff with layers of effects simulating waves of sound moving from left to right. The riffs move the song forward yet still comprise the depths of sound from which to move. When the drummer begins to punish the cymbals, more focused, palm-muted riffs take over with a methodical double bass. After a more primal affair in the second track, the title and last track brings with it the true multi-tiered landscape that is representative of Above Aurora‘s sound. The track contains the most out-of-the-box chord choices on the mini-album with some chords left ringing to fill the song with myriad semi-tones as reflections of decaying chords and effects. The moment of true inward-reflection and where the band leaves its mark begins at 3:37 where a spoken-word performance is given over echoes of music with a solitary, very mellow horn perfectly dictating the eerie, reflective mood like the credits running after a film noir. A little over a minute later, the full band returns with the most ferocious blasting of the album. The savagery delivered, characterized by sharp, spiky riffs is like a primeval movement conveying the intentions of the three members. When the faint horn returns about a minute later, the effect of the resolving song is like awakening from an almost-lucid dream as it haunts the listener.
To have such an enormous sound, it is surprising the band is comprised of only three members: O., V., and D. Perhaps the band felt that leaving off individual personality would effectively cause a greater-perceived whole. The vocals, handled by V., are gravelly yet intelligible with tons of reverb and at times sounding like a furious announcer of the proceedings. V. also handles the guitars, and the tone is almost-perfect for the band’s blend of somber and frenetic passages. It is a tone that can be felt, sharp yet bulbous, and darkened by both mood and chord choice. D.’s bass performance is more than satisfactory as it is in the subtle parts that he reveals himself, key to the role of a bass player. The drummer, O., performs a percussion that is crystal-clear and maintains a good mix of classic beats, double bass marches, and blitz-blasts.
Overall, one cannot help but wish for the EP to be longer. After about two listens one starts processing the parts that leave the largest impressions upon the conscious. Approaching the project as a whole, it can be seen that the first song reflects the band’s more somber intentions, the second contains the more brutal features, and the last song combines the two while adding more and more dimensions to a sound that was already intriguing. It is without doubt, that their next album will be one to take notice of, and it could not arrive soon enough.