Empty Seas

Auric is a band from my home state of Arkansas; which has always had a tiny, but vibrant heavy music scene. Arkansas has contributed a couple pretty notable bands to the whole southern/sludge/doom lexicon, as well as a lot of really good punk and hardcore. And now we have Auric, who could be the fourth great band to come from this state; along with Rwake,Deadbird, and Pallbearer.

A lot of Arkansas bands draw creatively from the usual suspects that you would expect; Black Sabbath the most readily apparent. Auric are much more modern in scope.

Auric are fluent in the vocabulary of the more arty/weirder elements of extreme metal and hardcore from the last 15 years or so. In one song, these guys can convincingly utilize those skronky, jazz-by-way-of-death metal chords of Gorguts and Ulcerate, the “after the end of the world, roll credits” doom passages of Rune’s seminal End of Nothing, to those circuitous, tribal/trance passages that Neurosis first brought to metal on albums like Souls at Zero, and Enemy of the Sun. I also hear shades of Converge, and to some lesser extent, Mastodon. The Mastodon influence in particular is heavily apparent in the drumming, reminiscent of Brann Dailor’s fluent “drumfills-as-backbeat” style.

Unlike a lot of bands of their ilk, Auric are always tuneful. Some of the better examples of this are the prosaic, melodic instrumental excursions into the post-metal idiom. You know what I’m talking about; shimmering arpeggios meander, threading and weaving through and around the craggy rumble of the drums and bass. ceaselessly climbs towards a seemingly perpetual crescendo; finally to break upon a wall of blood and thunder.

Vocals are emotive enough, sort of a hoarse bellow, not quite venturing into death metal territory. But like so much of extreme music, atonal vocals are there as another instrumental texture. Rarely do they push forward to carry the narrative; as opposed to how they are utilized in most other forms of western music. Though at other times, they do really pop through, and are a welcome delineation between longer instrumental passages.

A minor complaint would be that the drums have an odd, processed sound. I have no problem with drum machines, or triggered drums in general; whatever works, when it works. But everything else on this album sounds organic and integrated, which just makes the weird drum sound that much more noticeable. But it really doesn’t effect the drum performance, which is actually quite good.

I took quite a bit of time to immerse myself in the material, which proved to be worthwhile. While In Empty Seas has a lot of qualities that lend to instant gratification; but the nature of the layered compositions really become apparent and grab you several listens in. In Empty Seas is an album full of many faceted emotions. Auric skilfully navigates from anguish to nihilistic resignation, on to hope and serenity; and a lot of other places in between.

Definitely worth picking up.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Timothy D White
September 10th, 2015


  1. Commented by: E. Thomas

    This is killer. Definite Ulcerate vibe mixed with some brooding Starweather-ish hues. great review tim

  2. Commented by: Timothy D White

    Thanks man!

  3. Commented by: Mars/Slaveborn

    the “after the end of the world, roll credits” doom passages

    Nice description.

  4. Commented by: glimmerfunnel
  5. Commented by: glimmerfunnel

    …and what a remarkable album!

  6. Commented by: Jay

    Man, I slept on this one. Just getting into it tonight thanks to this kick ass review.

    Arkansas has/had a lot of just fucking great bands. Iron Tongue is damn good, hope they do some more stuff soon. And Shitfire’s 2 albums are hard to find but they were killer…very much in a similar atmosphere yet hard as hell sludgy, sprawling hardcore in the vein of Dead Bird and Rwake.

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