Sicktus : It had been a while, since we at Lords Of Metal wrote about the American outfit Aurora Borealis. The last time we featured them in our webzine, they had just released 'Northern Lights' (2000) and 'Time, Unveiled' (2002). So that is over a decade ago, then their second and third album. The band themselves have been around for two decades, after Ron Vento founded the act in 1994. 'Worldshapers' is the sixth full-length by these sympathetic Americans and it is also their debut at the (also muy simpatico) Spanish label Xtreem Music, run by scene veteran Dave Rotten. Let us hope this will gain these guys more exposure compared to the album's predecessors, because this band deserves more attention.
Thematically, the trio have stuck to their roots. The band - who are named after the Northern Lights - are still in the Erich van Daniken" area, where space travel and ancient cultures and myths meet. The cover art with the skywards going pyramids, reminding me of Stargate (the movie, not that tame TV series featuring MacGyver), which happens to be from the same year the band was founded, the excellent year of 1994. And with that, Saturn's Ring comes full circle. The storylines on this album by the way are offshoots of the concept album 'Timeline' from 2011. Just so you know. Lyrically, it seems a lot of thought has been put into this, same as for the music, and there are multiple layers to it, same as to the music, again.
Musically, these guys have kept their arrow pointing upward for the last couple of decades, if you ask me, growing with each album. Their style is advertised as blackened death, but the black metal influences are mainly to be found in the vocals. The band sound like a hybrid between especially the rawness of Angelcorpse, the aggressive catchiness of Dissection and the structures and love for detail of Carcass, but built on a foundation of the more blast oriented Suffocation highlights. The more threatening, lingering songs (at least, before we switch back to blast mode) contain a few hints of Hypocrisy as well. So, something to be enjoyed for aficionados of every type of (death) metal.
After a couple of spins, it are the dynamic and strong song structures that really steal the show though and who keep all the blasting violence on the right track, because, even with all the aforementioned influences, do not forget that we are dealing with a very tight and blast orientated Americano death. The raspy, snarling vocals by Ron Vento fit the fast paced music if you ask me and might be the bridge toward the blackened bit of the self chosen genre specification. The sometimes immediately catchy yet oft capricious vocal lines are a selling point, but the addition of a deeper growl or perhaps a Nodtveidt-like scream or second (backing) vocal would be welcomed for more vocal variation. The soloing is pretty decent and adds some flavour as well. I would like to see these guys play the scifi trump a bit more often, Nocturnus style, but I have a feeling the decision to minimize this is a deliberate choice by the band.
In short: a fine, no, excellent death metal album of the faster, yet catchy and multi-layered kind. Although the song structures are strong, the forty-five minutes of playing time are just a bit on the (too) long side, but that is grumbletonian speak. So, highly recommended! Oh, speaking of a band muy simpatico: with this new album as an exception, the entire discography can be downloaded for free (or a self chosen fee) at the band's website. So if you like Aurora Borealis' music, do the right thing, download the backcatalogue, but buy this new record! (...and for those who prefer having the real deal: the backcatalogue is also still available on CD, for sale directly from the band.)