Above Aurora – Path to Ruin Review

Band: Above Aurora
Album: Path to Ruin
Label: Pagan Records
Genre: Black Metal
Country: Poland
Release Date: 6 April, 2018

Path to Ruin is the sophomore effort from black metal band Above Aurora. The EP is technically well put together, but the first two tracks can be forgettable. The third track is extremely well written, and with how well the album is put together, makes this worth a listen for fans of Polish black metal, especially for those waiting for Mgla’s next release.

Above Aurora is a three person black metal band hailing from Poland. They released their first album, Onwards Desolation, in 2016 on Pagan Records, and Path to Ruin is their sophomore effort releasing on April 6th, 2018. The EP was recorded at Studio Emissary in Iceland, the studio responsible for Svartidauði, Slidhr, Myrkr. The mixing and mastering was handled by Stephen Lockhart, who was partially responsible for defining the sound of Icelandic Black Metal. Lockhart’s expertise shows in the overall mix for the album. There is a good balance between all instrumentals, the vocals are well mixed, and the EP listens well on both high-quality headphones and on cheap earbuds. The only complaint would be the snare can occasionally get lost, especially with blast beats, but it works well for the sound scape.

The album opens with the instrumental “Delusional Disorder”. This is a solid taste of what’s to come – droning guitars, minimal – but proficient – drumming, and lower tempos. The track visits and plays on the same chord progression found throughout the song – this brings unity, and a certain monotony. They break out of this with variations in the drums and riffing off of the base progression. This track feels like it came from a jam session, in a good way. There is a certain energy found throughout the song, serving to pump up the listener without overwhelming then with complexity. In addition, the guitar riffs feel more improvisational due to how they revisit and play on the themes throughout the song. Overall, a solid opening track.

The second track, “Abyssal Hades”, is more similar to what was found on Above Aurora’s freshman effort. The vocals have a subtle, but noticeable, echo. The effect makes the vocals sound deeper, which adds to the overall depth of the track. This effect can detract from the instrumentals by drowning them out, but this particular execution is done well. The song is well written, but there doesn’t seem to be a major hook to draw the listener in. There’s no riff that gets stuck in your brain, no neat transition that makes you say “Oh, cool!” The track is well written, well executed, it’s just forgettable.

The third, and final track, “Path to Ruin”, is what elevates this album to good. The song opens in the normal fashion – droning guitars, booming vocals, simplistic drumming – but quickly expands into a more complex and interesting soundscape. The first half is the pretty standard affair, but at the mid-way point the song expands and becomes much more interesting. The drums become much groovier, using syncopated snare hits, and some really interesting double bass work. Over the course of a couple bars returns to the more straightforward drumming present throughout the track. After this, the norm returns only to be broken again. The drums fade out, and a single chord is held on the guitars, while a couple lines are read off in an non-English language, and layered horns start. These build up until the guitars, drums, and vocals return. In a lot of instances this can come off as cheesy, but this transition is well executed here. This track serves as the capstone to the EP, and contains the hook that has been missing so far through the playtime.

Overall, the EP is well put together. All of the songs are technically competent, there is good flow between the songs, and there’s enough depth in the tracks to warrant repeat listens. Unfortunately, the first two songs are fairly forgettable – there’s nothing to really grab the listener outside of the last track. I would recommend giving this a listen if you like the band, or others in the similar soundscape.

Rating: 7/10

1. Delusional Disorder
2. Abyssal Hades
3. Path to Ruin

Total Playing Time: 17:26

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