Auroch celebrate, transform what you call death metal on mind-altering new ‘Taman Shud’

AurochDeath metal can be all kinds of things to all kinds of people. It’s hard to say if any particular group of people is right, considering opinions are supposed to be open ended, but whatever. I feel like slick, glossy, Best Buy-available metal isn’t death. Well, except Autopsy. How’d that get on the shelf? But that’s just how death metal is to me.

There are many different ways to go about death metal, from technical to guttural to infernal to glossy and pretty (though we reserve the right to reject those bands outright), and we’ve been inundated by groups that practice all of those approaches. Then we have bands such as Auroch that just kind of throw the whole rulebook out the window and do things the way they want. That means they do it all jacked up and weird, and they easily can make you wonder if they’re trying to come up with some bizarre new scientific formulas while they’re plugged in and drubbing your brain. They do have some of the classic tenets of death metal that have been passed on through the ages, such as the savagery, intensity, and power. They even have the technical side to things, in case that’s your thing, but not in a way where their hearts and minds are detached from their mission because they’re trying to wow with their prowess. They’re just good. That’s all. They have an interesting way at attacking death metal and assaulting with it. Their teeth are sharp, and they’ll split your skill with their bare hands.

Auroch coverAuroch have been around since 2008, having dropped a series of demo recordings before their 2012 full-length debut “From Forgotten Worlds” dropped on Hellthrasher Productions. That album leaned a little harder toward the thrash side of things, in the most violent, devastating manner possible, and it was a really promising sign of what was to come. Now with the arrival of their hellacious second record “Taman Shud,” they’ve increased the amount of bloodshed and made things even stormier than anything they’ve done before. The band–guitarist/vocalist Sebastian Montesi (bassist with Mitochondrion) bassist Shawn Hache (guitarist/vocalist with Mitochondrion), and drummer Zack Chandler–burns the torches for Canadian death metal and the genre as a whole. What they do on this nine track, 26-minute record is prove that this style of music can be deadly and creative at the same time, without giving a ounce of mercy. It’s a frenzy, and if it doesn’t make your neurons fire, maybe a slicker, less dangerous product is in store for you after all.

“Villainous” is the perfect opening for this record both because of its name and because it steamrolls you from the get go. There are scintillating melodies woven through the song, as gritty vocals are spat out and smeared on the walls, and the whole thing is devoured by crunch. “Octavo (Swirling in Capricorn)” has guitars that whip up like a funnel cloud, and the vocals are demonic and dangerous. Soloing erupts that grabs the track by its legs and whips it into a carcass pile, and the slurry final leads would leave even the most hardened listener dizzy. “Noxious Plume” feels like just that, as the sound rises up and chokes you, with heavy amounts of damage, guitars that switch back and forth between speed and muck, and vocals that sound absolutely animalistic.The title cut is a mystical-style interlude, complete with dusty passages like an ancient book being opened for the first time in centuries, and the acoustic guitars provide the perfect passageway into the second part of the record.

“Voice of Gemini” is lighting fast, intricate, and hammering, with grisly vocals and noise shutting off all beams of light. “Death Canonized” feels like it gets down in the mud, yet at the same time it lets some of its fumes rise back into the atmosphere to instill a sense of dread. It’s not around for very long, but it makes its weird impact easily. “Defixio” has guitars that spiral all over the place, like a strobe gone wild in a dark room, and the sounds bubble over, leading into deep, from-the-bacterial-tracts-style growling. It’s dark and ominous for sure. “Novemportis” is all over the map, with mind-erasing playing, guitars with a sense of adventure and death, and growls that sound pained and drenched in anguish. Then the final cut “The Balkan Affair” arrives, dressed in eerie acoustic guitars, whispers, and howls, and before you know it, it’s over. Not just the song, but this strange, alien-like serving of mutating death that wrapped your nerves into balls for the past half hour.

Auroch’s path is unpredictable and rumbling, and their style of death metal injects more hope into a sub-genre that’s lost much of its edge. This band will keep you up at night, but not necessarily in fear. They’ll keep you on the edge of your seat, head tilted, confused and intrigued, never able to guess the next bends in their path. “Taman Shud” never loses its edge, no matter how many times you visit, and this sounds like the very beginning of their campaign, both mentally and artistically.

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