Aurora Borealis
Time, Unveiled

If found a new game to play and it’s called “Six Degrees of Erik Rutan”. Aurora Borealis is the self-financed project of guitarist Ron Vento, who then just hires session musicians to play other instruments. Former members include Tony Laureano and (Nile, Angelcorpse), Derek Roddy (Hate Eternal and too many bands to mention) and now includes drummer Tim Yeung, who, you guessed it was formerly in…Hate Eternal. Heck, it doesn’t even take six degrees of separation to find Erik Rutan’s vile influence on a majority of modern U.S. death metal.

Well, anyway, Time, Unveiled is the project’s third full-length manifestation, and those not familiar with the project, they play a sort of blackened death metal that was recently perfected by Council Of the Fallen (who’s main member also Kevin Quiron has ties to Aurora Borealis). It’s fast, hectic and merciless with scathing higher register vocals. Considering the drummer’s heritage, it’s a given you can expect highly technical drumming also. And I guess that’s my main beef with this album and other recent U.S. death metal. Is it me or have bands become projects that are showcases for session drummers? This album, along with the Hate Eternal, Council of the Fallen, and Internecine, while quality albums, seem to sound so “similar” to each other, party due to the inter-usage of band members. The drumming has little variety despite the vast levels of technical excellence. As a result, I think the actual songs become second fiddle to the drumming.

Rant over. On to this album. The majority of the material is breakneck staccato riffing over pretty impressive non-stop blastbeats courtesy of Mr. Yeung. However, while the often long lastingblast beats do wear on with little variety, he certainly does warrant being mentioned in the same breath as Roddy, Laureano, Duhamel and company The sheer black metal tempo is pretty constant throughout, without the variety and crushing death metal interjections of Council Of The Fallen. Which is a shame as when the rare instances that a little imagination is used, it’s pretty darn cool, and a welcome change from the hyper-speed. Take for example the last track “Reign”: its very low-key acoustic interludes that cleverly break up the breakneck speed very subtlety. My other favorite track “The Last Day”, also offering tiny snippets of variety, with a little more memorable melody and tempered speed, as opposed to the often faceless blasting of the prior five songs.

And that’s my issue here: while certainly a technically proficient album which superior musicianship that will no doubt satisfy those who enjoy Hate Eternal and other raging acts, it’s simply an album that left me cold and not really in a rush to listen to it again any time soon. “Triumph Again,” “Berzerker” and “Transversing the Skies”, while all competent, just simply whirled by me with little long lasting impact other than, “Man, that was fast!” “Sky Burial” is decent, and is the most Nordic sounding of all the songs, but still relies on rending high-end riffs, despite a death metal breakdown, that is a rare respite. The lone “slow” song “Searching”, while a respectable attempt at some mid-paced tempos, it soon degenerates into more Scandinavian style blasting. Normally, I wouldn’t have a problem with this but the riffs rarely are memorable or as dynamic as, say, Epoch of Unlight or Darkmoon’s later work. I’d actually compare it to the Internecine album structurally, which to me suffered the same “great musicianship, average songs” syndrome, although Aurora Borealis are a little more black metal; they are still similar (as well as being one man projects with session musicians).

Lyrically though, Aurora Borealis do stand out, breaking away from the Christ hating and Satanist views of most of their peers, instead choosing are far more historical and intellectual visage of ancient death and glory, with a slightly Viking lean. Production-wise, the guitars are a little shallow, but for a self-released album, it sounds fine and is quite beefy for a black/death metal album – I’ve heard much worse from bands on big labels.

The album comes with two bonus tracks from Vento’s former project, Lestregus Nosferatus, and were also re-released on Aurora Borealis’s MCD Mansions of Eternity. So, that might warrant this album’s purchase for diehards and such, but otherwise this album didn’t much for me other than realize that the overuse of the a core group of musicians in U.S. death metal cannot be good for the scene’s originality in the long run.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
June 17th, 2003

Comments

  1. Commented by: Mastodude

    You should check out their newest album: Timeline. I think it’s the best thing they’ve put out so far and has a lot of professionalism behind it.


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