Death metal alchemists Auroch find fresh ways to tangle your nerve endings with ‘Mute Books’

Photo by Max Montesi

Photo by Max Montesi

Have you ever gotten to the point of exhaustion delirium, where the work never seems to end and it feels like you actually get to decompress for, like, an hour every couple days or so? That’s no good for the human body or psyche, but sometimes it is required, and you must just bite your tongue and power through the madness.

That’s how things have been over here, to the point where hours and days bleed together and nights of sleep seem to last five minutes. Luckily, I’ve had “Mute Books,” the inhumanly destructive third album from Auroch to keep me somewhat tuned out of reality enough to get things done. We’ve talked about Auroch in the past, as they’re one of the death metal bands always on the tip of our tongues when discussing who is making the most exciting, violent music in the sub-genre. But something on this new platter makes the band seem more dangerous and bloodier than ever, as they go way past just being a technically astonishing band to being one that also can make you feel like you’re having an out-of-body experience. They’re essentially upping the ante on themselves.

auroch-coverAuroch have been grinding minds since 2008 (though they existed under a different banner since 2006), and as time has gone on, their agenda and sound have gotten more aggressive and enthralling. Starting off with “From Forgotten Worlds” in 2012, the band really made its mark two years later on their stunning Profound Lore debut “Taman Shud.” Their sound has twisted and morphed, making some think of bands such as Gorguts, Mitochondrion (with whom they share members), and labelmates Grave Miasma as they combine stunning playing with explosive intent. Here, the band—vocalist/guitarist Sebastian Montesi, vocalist/bassist Shawn Haché, and drummer Zack Chandler—encapsulates their range and strangeness into a tight, perfectly dosed 30-minute record that is blazing and eye-opening, making you understand that you’re in the midst of savagery that’s still forming into whatever beast it’s intended to become.

“Billowing Vervain” starts with eerie chiming that spreads over the first minute or so before the earth is engorged, and the band starts melting faces. Guitar lines burn over top of everything, while deep growls lurch, the pace stomps heavily, and later speed ignites. Griff growls, an old death-style sound, and blinding soloing bring the track to its finish. “He Wreathes the Cross” is fast and grim, with the tempo bruising and the soloing absolutely taking off. Spacey, proggy transmissions make their way in, with the song coming to a chaotic end. “Say Nothing” has choral drone spinning as the song opens slowly and unleashes the heat. Once the song erupts, hisses and growls leave bloody scratches, and guitars begin to churn and wail, as the band mauls violently, and a woman delivers an alien-like monolog over a sci-fi-style finish.

“Tipharethairion” begins trickling gently before the album tears apart. Tricky melodies and guitar work that’ll scramble your brain arrive, with the band demonstrating their scary technical prowess. Savage growls meet up with stirring soloing, slipping into strange beds of sound, echoey laughter, and a total trance state. “The Keeping” lets noise ring out before the drums join up and drive, and the guitars get off to a fiery start. The growls are guttural and hellish as the melodies spill and dash all over, with the track bleeding right into “Her Bidding.” There, chilling guitars lap over your flesh, with chant-like howls situated behind the growls and soloing stampeding. The back end is filled with unforgiving carnage, with the growls rumbling away and the track heading right toward closer “Cup of Hemlock” and its meaty strikes. Deep-chested grunts and group chants make for a mesmerizing ambiance, while the melodies confound the senses. The pace continues to roar with power as the band unleashes their final assault, and it all ends in a haze of brain-altering chants.

Auroch’s claim to one of the upper echelon seats in all of death metal is made even stronger with “Mute Books.” This is a challenging, numbing record that, even at your most stressed and helpless, can let you escape that and get swallowed into a vortex of terror. As time goes on, this band gets better and more insane, with this record being their high point of the creativity and weirdness. For now, at least.

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