Augury
Concealed (reissue)

The important thing to remember is that there’s no such thing as progressive metal, rock, jazz or anything. You’re more likely to find something truly ‘progressive’ in anything by Janelle Monáe than anything by Opeth. Reason: ‘progressive’ is a just another genre, which means its hellbound to laws and rules, like any other genre.

So now that we’ve got that out of the way, the only questions are how a band plays with and/or tweaks the laws and rules that allow a person able to tell that Cult of Luna is ‘progressive’ and Skindred isn’t and what they bring to the whole kit and caboodle that wasn’t anywhere in the first place. (Actually, I’d argue that Skindred is far more progressive than Dream Theater in the way it embraces genre laws and neatly twists the fuck out of them while being totally catchy.  But as Skindred is not about the ability to play really fast in very odd scales—to name the most obvious ‘progressive’ regulation–so they’re left out of some useful conversations.)

Anyway, Augury. File under French progressive metal, tech/death subdivision. Concealed is a remastered, bonus tracked, blablabla version of the band’s first record, originally issued eight years ago. Yes, it sounds prog, and yes, it’s so much more. A lot of that has to do with acoustic guitars, tablas and girls.

Augury does play by the constricting rules of genre—it’s a matter of stylistic élan, balls and, of course, brutality, that make them really interesting, exciting even.

For everyone in love with that progressive metal version of a skitzy Yes arpeggio, “Skyless” has your back. And if progressive to you means tri-tone-y, multi-meter riffs on the more grey side of black metal, then jump to “…Ever Know Peace Again”.

Tracks like that are reassurances. They cuddle up to the progressive/tech death consumer and whisper sweetly that nothing is amiss. But again, what’s cool about Concealed has to do with straying from the formula, with the band assuming that consumer will go along for the ride. (If they’re one of the 162 people who still buy CDs, they won’t have a choice, of course.)

And so the crashing waves of dark chords roiling the excellently titled “In Russian Dolls Universes” gain extra strange texture courtesy some rubbery, creepy, electric-girl vocals not unlike the rubbery, creepy, electric-girl vocals employed by bizarre-o-world Swedish electro pop duo The Knife. No argument–this is something you have not heard before. To a certain degree, and with aesthetic precision behind it, can there be a better recommendation?

Some lovely, classic “progressive” acoustic fingerpicking plays against a soft rumor of female angel voices in “The Lair of Purity,” counterpointed by madrigal male vocals. In short order, said female vox morph to full-blown operatics, some serious Diamonda Galas type shit. Then the actual metal kicks in with a grinding vengeance and the male vocals go all manly-growly and suddenly we’re in Rotting Christ territory, which I gotta tell you, I totally did not expect. And by the way, all the femme vox are courtesy one Arianne Fleury, and color me impressed.

One of Augury’s endearing perversities is to intro tracks with soundscapes that are begging to accompany a 300 sequel. And so “Alien Shores” opens with some mysterioso sitar-sounding instrument, the patter of exotic percussion and peeling Arabic-ish woodwinds before everything blows up into a nicely crushing metal tango (!) complete with actual cookie monsters and I wasn’t expecting that either.  Actually, singer/guitarist Patrick Loisel’s rogue’s gallery of vocal stylings is both a treat and a slight problem in terms of giving the band a defining identity.

On the other hand, boredom? Not a problem.  For music that gets so savagely loud, the excitement here, the reason you’ll be downloading tracks and listening to them repeatedly, closely, is the quiet detailing of songs, the bit of reverb that renders a guitar mysterious here, the sudden, teasing disappearance of a gorgeous Fleury vocal line there. “Progressive metal”? Whatever. Damned good works for me.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Ian Grey
February 19th, 2011

Comments

  1. Commented by: Nicolas

    quote: File under French progressive metal

    Actually, Augury is a Canadian band, from Montreal.


  2. Commented by: gabaghoul

    very strong release, first two tracks are win. far preferred this one to the follow-up. great write-up, enjoy reading your stuff.


  3. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    I LOVE this Cd- If i had heard it 2004 it would have been on my year end list for sure. And hearing after Fragmentary Evidence is coll, you can hear they they actually toned it down after Concealed. on this album theres a much heavier Unexpect vibe.


  4. Commented by: Ian

    @ Nicolas My very bad re: Where the fuck they’re from!

    @gabaghoul Thanks, man


  5. Commented by: Dan

    Speaking of French-Canadian progressive tech-death, WHERE IS THE NEW QUO VADIS ALBUM?!?!?!?


  6. Commented by: Desperado

    When I saw the cover I was all “oh snap the Element albums reviewed”.

    Good ol Augury, I second that Dan, its been half-past forever. I’d love to see their new album come out around a new Martyr and then get to go see them both live.


  7. Commented by: Brandon Reinhart

    These guys are, hands down, my favorite band of all time. I love this album and I love Fragmentary Evidence!


  8. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    Great write up. Here are my meager thoughts on this excellent album: http://metalreview.com/reviews/6051/augury-concealed-%28reissue%29


  9. Commented by: stasis666

    Ummmmm…..”FRENCH Canadian”.


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