Formed in Norway in 1993, Aura Noir was the brainchild of Ulver and Ved Buens Ende drummer Aggressor (aka Carl-Michael Eide). A project originally created for just himself (he was the sole musician on the band’s initial 1994 demo), Eide was joined by former Lamented Souls bassist Apollyon (aka Ole Jørgen Moe) the same year. Recording a second demo and a six-track EP, the pair recruited legendary Mayhem guitarist Blasphemer (aka Rune Eriksen), and drawing inspiration from the likes of Venom, Slayer, Bathory and Celtic Frost, released their debut album, Black Thrash Attack (Malicious) in 1996.
Losing Blasphemer while he returned to Mayhem for a few years, Aura Noir remained a duo, releasing Deep Tracts of Hell (Hammerheart) in 1998 before undertaking a six-yearhiatus as Apollyon returned to the reactivated Cadaver, and Aggressor joined Dødheimsgard. Returning as a trio for 2004’s The Merciless (Tyrant Syndicate), everything seemed fine, but there was growing speculation that the band might be coming to an end. Blasphemer had left once again, this time moving to Portugal to join Gothic doom act Ava Inferi. Apollyon was gifted an opportunity by Norwegian legends Immortal, playing on 2009’s All Shall Fall (Nuclear Blast), while things turned serious for Aggressor as he fell from the fourth floor of a building in Oslo during March of 2005, resulting in the drummer losing of the use of his feet and subsequently being unable to sit behind the kit any more.
In 2008, however, Apollyon and Aggressor reunited for Hades Rise (Peaceville), with Blasphemer contributing a handful of guitar solos before eventually rejoining properly for 2012’s Out To Die. And now, in 2018, the full line-up of the self-proclaimed “Ugliest Band in the World” return with their latest offering, the semi self-titled Aura Noire (both Indie) – the “Noire” in this instance being the feminine singular of “noir” – meaning… well, black of course.
As before, Aura Noire channels the spirit of the early exponents of Thrash and Black Metal, with – as the band proudly announce – “no overdubs or embellishments”. From the Voivod meets Venom openers ‘Dark Lung of the Storm’, and ‘Grave Dweller’ the band make it abundantly clear that there aren’t going to be many prisoners taken for the next, extremely noisy half hour or so.
‘Hells Lost Chambers’ continues the punishment with an evil staccato gallop riff and a slower, but somehow even more evil, distorted arpeggiated section, while the riff to ‘The Obscuration’ sounds like ‘The Antichrist’ by Slayer but in a washing machine’s spin cycle, and ‘Demoniac Flow’ could easily have been written by Voivod in 1986.
“I REPEL YOU!” shrieks Eide during the somewhat less than delicate ‘Shades Ablaze’, ‘Mordant Wind’ is the sound of Celtic Frost being violated by Motorhead, and ‘Cold Bone Grasp’ paints an even more horrifying picture, leaving the simple instrumental ‘Outro’ as the only escape route.No subtlety, no surprises, and most definitely no ballads. There are, however, plenty of rampaging fast and mid-paced riffs, backed by a vocal delivery which ranges from primordial bellows to anguished roars, and occasionally some sort of deformed, twisted abomination of poetry.
Simply put, although it might not be the best Aura Noir album, Aura Noire is still an uncompromisingly vicious album guaranteed to leave people unfamiliar with metal shivering in fear and crying quietly in the corner, wondering why anyone would ever want to scare them like this.