Filthy and catchy as hell
It’s rare for an album to click with me as fast as Out to Die, the fifth album from veteran thrash/black metal act Aura Noir, has. Rarer still is the shit-eating, ear-to-ear grin that I get on my face every time I hear the filthy and catchy as hell riffs that permeate every single second of the album.
Out to Die, with its punk mentality and its no-nonsense and straight to the point musical approach is in many ways a throwback to simpler days when all that really mattered was the quality of the riffs and, to a lesser extent, the attitude of the members that played them. There are no hidden messages, no intricately interwoven melodies, and absolutely no pretence to be found anywhere in the album’s relatively short 32 minute running time. What you get is eight tracks of dirty and unapologetically rocking metal. No more, no less.
What has consistently made Aura Noir great is that they can channel and pay homage to so many of the classic bands (Darkthrone, Celtic Frost, Venom etc) without ever plagiarising them. Sure, there are unmistakable nods all through the Aura Noir’s material, but they are also extremely careful never to fall victim to lapsing into lazy regurgitation or imitation; they are still very much their own entity and what they do they do extremely well which really should come as no surprise considering the members that comprise the band.
The strongest weapon in Aura Noir’s arsenal on Out to Die is their ability to stick to a very traditional verse/chorus/bridge structure and fill each of these individual parts with powerful and almost criminally catchy riffs that, incidentally, sound a lot simpler than they actually are (the guitar-work is surprisingly tight and technical for something so punk in approach). So rather than being bombarded by a dizzying array of in-your-face guitar licks you instead tend to focus more on the vibe and the attitude that is so intrinsic to the band’s sound and is what is so important in bringing out the ‘fun factor’ in this album.
Production-wise Out to Die is as rough around the edges as you would expect it to be for this kind of music but it isn’t even close to being lo-fi or under-produced. Care has been taken to make sure that the sound is clear and unencumbered but it seems as though special attention has been paid to make sure the crusty, independent/underground sound remains intact which amplifies and enhances the overall feel of the album and suits the band’s material perfectly.
As much as I love Out to Die to pieces, I’d be lying if I said it was a perfect album. There are some songs that don’t quite make the grade when compared to some of the truly excellent ones that comprise the rest of the album (seriously, how good are Priest’s Hellish Fiend and Fed to the Flames?) but, honestly, with such a short running time even the slightest dips in quality (which is really all that these are) are negligible and very easy to overlook.
With five albums out on the shelves and just shy of 20 years in existence as a band, one gets the impression that Aura Noir are never going to be a band that will make it ‘big’ but, at the same time, it also seems likely that they have absolutely no interest in doing so. Whatever their aspirations and intentions may be, however, as long as they keep releasing quality material like Out to Die, then I truly couldn’t care less.
(Indie Recordings/Riot! Entertainment)