Ravendust – The Gold of the Aura Review

Certain animals have an association with extreme metal. There’s the goat, of course, representing the Azazel goat that bore the sins of mankind and was sent off to the wilderness. There are worms, about whom I’ve written before. Now you can add ravens. Even one of AMG’s reviewers is named after the eerie birds that peck out eyeballs. Ravendust is a solo act clearly inspired by ravens and their… dust? It’s a remarkably unscary name for a project that hearkens back to the brutal days of the second wave. Sounding more like a Hogwarts house in Harry Potter, Ravendust has been around since 2019. So far, they’ve flown under the radar, but with a new album, the question is, are you ready for a good ole fashioned… dusting?

The Gold of the Aura is Ravendust’s second collection, following 2020’s Ultragod. I didn’t listen to it, but that album was apparently “40 min of pure hate” (sic). This one promises to be just as brutal as its predecessor, but “more melancholy.” Well, The Gold of the Aura is about as melancholic as your first threesome. This is black metal combined with thrash and black ‘n’ roll, that jaunts along merrily and good-naturedly. This industrious, can-do spirit is to The Gold of the Aura’s decided advantage. When Ravendust lean into the fun, groovier side of things, the results are very entertaining. “No God” kicks things off with a pleasingly retro fuzz before melding second-wave aesthetics with actual riffs. It’s all tremendously promising, and it’s not a one-off. “Among Death” has a melody that would fit into any great hard rock album, with harsh vocals and blast beats that combine as easily as chocolate in cookies. Tracks like these make one thing abundantly clear: The Gold of the Aura is at its strongest when the material is thrashier and breezier.

Unfortunately, not all the tracks are as fun or entertaining. It’s usually when Ravendust “gets serious” that the album loses its way. “The Gold of the Aura” meanders along without anything surprising happening, and it does so for over eight minutes. “Our Blood” is slower, almost doom-like in its tempo; without the spark of the more energetic numbers, however, it unfortunately flags. The astute reader will have noticed that the longer, duller tracks dominate the second half, which lends The Gold of the Aura an extremely unbalanced feel. The first half rockets by, only to hit treacle-like obstruction in the second. By the time the album collapses over the line with “Raven Dust,” much of the goodwill of the first half has unfortunately been squandered.

The production is purposely on the lower-fi end of the spectrum, without ever hitting the overtly bloody “raw” state. I quite like the fuzzy grime and “aura” of authenticity this lends proceedings. But the mix, unfortunately, mutes the drums, making them sound anemic and ineffectual. When an album’s best cuts are those driven by a propulsive beat, tame drum mixing, unfortunately, leeches much of the power. Sole member, Raven Dust, is more than competent on the guitar, with some very technical solos punctuating many of the songs.

The Gold of the Aura is a curious album. The name is strange. The name of its creator is equally strange. It promises darkness and melancholia yet succeeds when it’s breezy and thrashy. It’s wildly unevenly paced and tonally inconsistent, yet many of the riffs and ideas are undoubtedly entertaining. I think Ravendust is still figuring out exactly what kind of music he wants to make. I hope he goes lighter and riffier next time because this is where his strengths lie. The Gold of the Aura is neither a success nor a failure, but it could be a stepping stone to something really entertaining. Meanwhile, I’m still trying to figure out exactly what raven dust actually is…

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Released
Websites: wolfmondproduction.bandcamp.com  |  facebook.com/Ravendustt
Released Worldwide: August 18th, 2021

« »