Anyone who has seen Aura Noir live knows they fucking kick serious arse. Bludgeoning riffs heralded by the master of ceremonies Ole Jørgen (Apollyon) while his gruff voice cuts the air, and in between songs we are treated to the sarcasm of a man as funny as he is scary looking. The albums Deep Tracts of Hell, Black Thrash Attack, planted the flag demonstratively in the Norwegian BM scene creating the undeniable fact that these guys were to be taken seriously. Never accosted the same mention as their peers, Aura Noir quietly battled away recording, releasing, playing the odd live show, dealing with the paralysis of their ex-drummer Carl-Michael Eide (who now amazingly is back on stage playing guitar and adding the vocals that we all missed) and Apollyon sharing duties playing bass for Immortal.
With Out To Die, Aura Noir find themselves at a crossroads of sorts. Perhaps conscious of not wanting to repeat themselves, and yet not 100% certain about which viable path to defer to, they end up stranded in a no mans land of sorts, flailing their arms at passing vehicles but not really knowing which direction they are headed. The songs lack the bite of previous albums. They lack memorable riffs. The vocal passages seem a tad rushed.
Don´t get me wrong. By all accounts if this was the first record of a new band you would probably be blown away, but knowing the caliber of what they have put out before, and knowing the immense talent that lies in the bands grasp, its almost a case of a step backwards.
It must be difficult though, not wanting to make another The Merciless they have managed to make a record that has all the right ingredients but just somehow doesn´t taste like it should. Somewhat muddy production, forgettable riffs, even the fist-in-air moments lack that extra element to elevate them above the masses. It feels like a band suffering from burn-out, who go through the motions, make a record, but it´s not been shown enough time or energy.
I see this record being listened to a few times by fans, then put on the shelf, and their previous records taken out in the future when they want to listen to Aura Noir.
If it´s a rest you need gentlemen, then by all means take some time off and rediscover the very essence of what made you great in the first place!