Aara – Triade III: Nyx Review

There’s a lot of pressure going into Triade III: Nyx, after two installments of killer black metal preceding it. I became a believer, a traveler in their gas-lit and cobblestone Victorian world, with second installment of their trilogy, 2022’s Triade II: Hemera.1 A series established upon the 1820 novel Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Maturin, it follows the titular Melmoth as his deal with the devil comes to a bitter conclusion: with the death of his lover in the dungeons of the Spanish Inquisition. Doomed to long life, a gift originally too good to be true, Melmoth cannot save himself nor his lover or child. Nyx, like the goddess of night of its namesake, is a more morose, darker, and more devastating beast compared to its predecessors.

Aara originates from Switzerland, having offered four full-lengths and a couple EPs since its 2018 founding. While very firmly second-wave, their approach has long subverted genre trappings, being just raw enough to hurt, atmospheric enough to evoke, and melodic enough to be infectious. While I’ve always felt that they are a more believable A Forest of Stars in their Victorian-era theme, with its Melmoth trilogy’s unwavering adherence to tangible story, Aara ascends to a plane all its own with climax and finisher Nyx. Tasteful balance is executed with all-out bombast executed by stunning and precise musicianship and fluid songwriting.

It’s clear that Aara bases its music off its lyrics, because the flow of Nyx, like the two installments before it, is impeccable. It would be easy to dismiss vocalist/lyricist Fluss’ barely noticeable and impossibly shrill shrieks as irrelevant, but the German lyrics are clearly the backbone to the music. The movements of each track, like any good classical symphony, feature noticeable shifts in mood and tempo that don’t undermine the album’s coherence and feel more like chapters in a story rather than a collective of songs. Take “Moribunda,” for example. Swaying slightly between ominous passages of dense blastbeats and layers of tremolo both melodic and strained, the percussion slows slightly and the choral sample is introduced, a voice of clarity amid the murk. This motif is carried into “Unstern,” a siren’s song of the coming tragedy. As always, these tricks are accomplished with the utmost balance. Instrumentalist Berg and drummer J. offer stellar performances, balancing riffy punishment and blastbeat insanity with a mammoth mix and production.

“Heimegesucht” and “Emphase der Seelenpein” feel the most cutthroat of the tracks aboard Nyx, featuring strong melodies but prioritizing blasting insanity. However, this makes the crescendo of tragedy that swells gradually across the second act more brutal than any guitar or drum can accomplish, as melody begins to take stronger precedence – as if the brutality is a way to mask the pain. “Des Wanderers Traum” has a distinctly lonely feel, and while its riffy insanity recalls the punchy openers, it paves the way in mood and motif for the devastating closer “Edo et Edam.” Morose synths and weighty doom tempos grow into the most desperate Aara has ever sounded. Tragedy has never felt so savage, and while my access to lyrics is limited, Nyx feels in every way like a story, in a believable and punishingly human way that conveys its tragic themes.

You could argue that Fluss’ vocals need more variety, or that the songs fade out too quickly to fully appreciate them, or that “Heimgesucht” is too long and “Der Wanderer Traum” is relatively forgettable, but Triade III: Nyx’s adherence to story, technical performances, and balance blow its predecessors out of the water. Don’t get me wrong, Triade I: Eos and Triade II: Hemera were solid, but Nyx is its own beast entirely. Finding that sweet spot between assault and catchiness, atmosphere and riff, and bombast and subtlety without compromising its unflinching portrayal of Victorian-esque tragedy, Aara has created something truly special – especially within the lanes of its own history. You can feel the cold of the dungeon walls, hear the hooves upon cobblestone roads, and see the pain-ridden wrinkles upon Melmoth the Wanderer’s worn face, without having to forego the simple act of enjoying kickass second-wave black metal. Melmoth the Wanderer is a novel steeped in tragedy, but Aara’s story is one of triumph.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Debemur Morti Productions
Websitesaara.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/aara
Releases Worldwide: March 31st, 2023

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  1. Which was filtered here.
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