Reeking Aura – Blood and Bonemeal Review

As a hippie vegan with a houseplant obsession, I know all too much about blood and bone meal. If you’ve ever bought organic fertilizer, it likely contained these horrifying but nutrient-rich byproducts of slaughterhouses. While much less objectionable, Reeking Aura’s debut Blood and Bonemeal is no less vile than its namesake. Boasting band members from Grey Skies Fallen, Artificial Brain, and Buckshot Facelift, Blood and Bonemeal harks back to the halcyon days of Autopsy and Asphyx, dishing out grimy death metal riffs across the tempo spectrum. While Blood and Bonemeal is unlikely to turn your year-end list topsy-turvy, it’s a solid outing from talented musicians.

This July was replete with mucky death metal, and Blood and Bonemeal rounds out the series. Reeking Aura’s game is vintage death-doom. The band isn’t Finnish, and they’re not trying to make you cry. Rather, the three lead guitarists fire a volley of infectious death metal riffs that range from slightly boneheaded to extremely boneheaded, adding some variety through tortoise-paced doom digressions and wailing leads. Reeking Aura is helmed by the now-familiar Will Smith (no, not that one… yes, that one – Artificial Brain, Afterbirth), whose vocal performance is as maniacal as it’s ever been. While Blood and Bonemeal is punctuated with softer acoustic and synth-led sections (which are Cherd’s favorite), Reeking Aura’s primary focus is diabolical down-tuned death-doom.

Nearly every aspect of Blood and Bonemeal contributes to the album’s nasty, claustrophobic atmosphere. Reeking Aura’s rhythm section deserves praise despite technically simple performances, with Tom Anderer’s no-frills bass providing an ominous backbone while Sam Shereck’s pounding drums add variety and oomph (“Pyramid-Shaped Plow/The Caretaker”). Their presence is reinforced by Colin Marston’s production job, which highlights the low end, makes the double-bass drumming sound thunderous, and solidifies the album’s cavernous ambience. Reeking Aura’s guitarists take inspiration from the swampiest corners of old-school death metal, taking their sweet time to submerge listeners in an auditory mire. In tandem, Smith gurgles, croaks, and bellows, with inhuman vocal acrobatics that cement his place as one of the most talented vocalists in modern death metal. Smith particularly wows when he shows up unannounced during instrumental sections (“Remnant of Obstinate Rank”) or goes off the chain with seemingly never-ending growls (“Pyramid-Shaped Plow,” “Seed the Size of a Spider’s Eye”). Alongside this filthy unified front, Blood and Bonemeal’s softer interludes feel jarring and out of place. While the title track deftly uses an acoustic melody to mirror its main riff, “Harvesting the Hatchet” and “Pyramid-Shaped Plow/The Caretaker” both squander exhilarating endings by following them up with anticlimactic soft sections. The album would be better off without these digressions.

It helps that Blood and Bonemeal is good old-fashioned fun. Reeking Aura excels when they crank up the energy, and the seismic openings of “Harvesting the Hatchet” and “Blood and Bonemeal” are among the most whiplash-inducing death metal riffs I’ve heard in months. But even the slower sections of the album often hit hard (“Pyramid-Shaped Plow,” “Grublust”), by using all 6 band members to add depth and replay value. Given my usual aversion to doom, this is no easy feat. Reeking Aura’s guitarists often chime in with jaw-dropping solos and leads that wail and squeal over OSDM riffs (“Harvesting the Hatchet,” “Vegetative Mush”), keeping things interesting without disrupting the album’s atmosphere. Still, much of Blood and Bonemeal doesn’t match these high points, and Reeking Aura fails to escape some common complaints about old-school death metal. Reeking Aura’s riffs disappoint when they lack both intensity and creativity, relying on forgettable melodies in simplistic rhythms (“Remnant of Obstinate Rank,” “A Vegetative Mush”). This is particularly frustrating when the band’s bass and 3 guitars mirror each other lazily rather than contributing unique ideas. These sections feel like wasted potential, especially compared to the high points of the record.

It’s been a good year for Profound Lore – we’ve reviewed 8 of their releases, each with a score between 3 and 4. The label’s roster has done an admirable job of playing death metal with twists, and Reeking Aura is no exception. Blood and Bonemeal plays into the cliché of grimy death metal, but stands out through its talented performances and its thoughtful writing and production. I’d love to hear Reeking Aura cut some fluff and replace it with more creative ideas next time around. Still, Blood and Bonemeal is an unfortunate victim of the “When in doubt, round down” rule, and is well worth your time.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320kbps mp3
Label: Profound Lore Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: July 29th, 2022

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