“From palpable obscurity, tumultuous streams of glory gushed, ten thousand thousand rainbows rushed and reveled through the boundless sky, in jousting, flashing radiancy.” That was David Vedder’s description the Aurora Borealis back around the 1800s, and today it remains a fitting description of these Maryland-based blackened death metallers that deliver a brand of bludgeoning melodicism reminiscent of Carcass and Morbid Angel. 20 years into their career, Aurora Borealis are in the process of introducing their highly-charged sixth full-length release, the follow-up to Timeline: The Beginning and End of Everything going back to 2011.
World Shapers spins off from “Tearing Holes in the Fabric of Time” voicing tales of the human race using these gashes in the fabric to send encoded DNA messages into other dimensions. World Shapers steps beyond what Timeline: The Beginning and End of Everything delivered, delving into the reception of these crackling DNA charged messages, with intelligently written lyrics that speak of the universe, it’s birth, it’s death and everything else in between.
“In the Beginning” sets the changing, mind-altering mood, before blundering heavily into “God Like Redemption.” The base riff sounds like it was pulled from Kreator’s Phantom Antichrist album which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s memorable, familiar and relentless. Man of many talents (vocals, guitars, keyboards, lyrics and production) Ron Vento (ex-Lestregus Nosferatus) has an urgent quality to his vocals, delivering a raspy high-pitched growl having similarities to Jeff Walker with added in-your-face blackened ardor. Big vocal moments include the album title track, “Watchers from Above” and “This is the Way They Choose to Die” and despite Ron’s spluttering delivery it’s oddly easy to pick up on lines like “They’re watching from above” repeated over and over, leaving you looking anxiously over your shoulder.
Delving into the heart of the album you’ll notice the guitar soloing doesn’t really become the focus, but rather shows its ugly face briefly, pulled back behind the continuous veil of blast beats and vocals, reshaping until all you’re left with is an overwhelming edge of disquietude. The solo around the mid point of “God Like Redemption” is indicative of the skulking devastation lying in wait, following through into “Induced Mutation,” “The Oldest of Dilemmas,” “Silent War” and “And to the Stars Returned.”
The pillaging continues with the title track, showing off clever layering of the barbed riff over Mark Green’s (Embludgeonment, ex-Amorphic Form, ex-The Adept, ex-Insatanity, ex-Pyrexia) solid wall of urgent, energetic blast beats that form the backbone of the album. There’s no lack of skill and chemistry across the instrumentation, and while the tracks are reasonable lengthy, they have enough technicality to keep them demanding and interesting and it’s only with repeated listens that the chaos wears off and the albums melodicism settles into place.
The incessant blasting, relentless pace and compounded anxiety reminds me to some extent of Suffocation, having a tendency to become exhausting when you attempt to get through the entire concept behind both albums. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Ron Vento at his own Nightsky Studio, World Shapers delivers modern, brutal, fast and technical yet melodic death metal with a nice blackened edge that’s not dramatically different from what Aurora Borealis delivered in Timeline: The Beginning and End of Everything. This is a consistently good action packed release with an over-powering show of brute force and unrestrained intellect and if you enjoyed the earlier release, you’ll enjoy this one also. And as an added little bonus, Aurora Borealis are offering their entire discography for free download – check it out!