Canadian djent juggernauts Auras arrived on the scene in 2013 with the release of their EP Panacea. With a keen understanding of atmospheric innovation and technical capacity underlying relentlessly heavy grooves, the quartet signed to Good Fight Music / eOne Music and released another EP, Crestfallen, last spring. Embarking on a series of tours in the meantime, the band has been busy preparing their debut full-length, Heliospectrum. The ten track record is set to be released on September 30 and carries the momentum of previous releases while also introducing new elements to their established sound.
“Waterstone” opens the album on what, at least for Auras, seems to be a happy note: Clean guitars well through a wash of reverb and delay before an uplifting, Intervals-esque melody is introduced. Since this uplifting moment is later starkly contrasted by intense screams and complex rhythms, the tranquil introduction hardly hints at the tremendously hard hitting grooves and eerie leads that finish the track, which showcase a potent musical progression from optimism to intense anger. Having seen the destruction that follows in the wake of an Auras performance, I have no doubt that this new material will translate to a live setting very well.
Though Auras have sometimes flirted with clean vocals in their music prior to Heliospectrum, this record marks a further, more pronounced foray into this vocal style. On songs like “Stars” and “Spiral”, emotive choruses are furthered by the presence of effective, well-executed and tasteful singing. However, this technique still remains a sparsely used implement in the band’s arsenal on Heliospectrum; Eric Almeida’s fearsome screams reign supreme throughout these tracks, lending further intensity to some of the most brutal grooves in the business.
Tracks like “The Ripple Effect”, “Chronos Fear” and single “Dream Elixir” mix grooves akin to early Periphery and After the Burial, conjuring up riffs that are simultaneously complex and crushing. Certain moments on the album can be somewhat repetitive, but it can never be said that Auras have lost their edge for heavy, moshworthy riffing. On album closer “Solar Pulse,” which is their longest and very likely most progressive song to date, the band noticeably moves past their typical fare. Shimmering guitars explode into angular riffing and Almeida’s blistering screams, with funky bass lines and subtle synths expanding on the group’s typical approach while building into a monstrous six and a half minute epic.
This release adds numerous new elements to the already established Auras sound, most notably in the form of expanded use of clean singing, tasteful incorporation of synths, and more progressive song structures. However, there is more than enough solid grooves and breakdowns to satisfy older fans. It is my hope that they carry the momentum they garnered on this album and continue to grow, simply because the new elements still do not bring quite enough freshness to each track on the album to keep things consistently interesting. Nonetheless, the pristine production and unrelenting grooves make Auras’ Heliospectrum a powerful release that will more than satisfy any cravings for some of the hardest hitting and increasingly melodic djent around.
Notable Tracks: “Waterstone”, “The Ripple Effect”, “Spiral”
FFO: Auras, After the Burial, Structures