If you like your death/black metal to be bone-crushingly heavy, technically demanding, yet still consistent in delivery and composition, Aurora Borealis is a band worth checking out sooner rather than later. This Maryland-based group really left me speechless after hearing their 2011 effort, Timeline: The Beginning and End of Everything, so (needless to say) I was pretty enthusiastic about taking a dive into their earlier releases. Relinquish, the band's fourth full-length album, was my next venture into their discography - and it certainly didn't disappoint in the slightest.
Aurora Borealis plays blackened death metal with influences from the likes of death metal bands like Morbid Angel and Deicide, black metal acts like Darkthrone, and technical death metal bands like Suffocation. One thing that has always amazed me about Aurora Borealis is their sheer technical capabilities - these guys sure as hell know how to play. Add in the fact that the band was just a duo at this point (consisting of Tony Laureano and Ron Vento), and you gain an even greater appreciation for these two musical masterminds. Ron Vento is an exceptional guitar player (as well as a great bassist and throaty vocalist) and Tony Laureano is one of the best drummers in modern metal. As a drummer myself, it's difficult to not scream "holy shit!" when you listen to some of the drum patterns on Relinquish. These guys truly are technical masters that can compete with the best in extreme metal - surely no small feat when considering the huge scope of talented musicians out there.
Although music focused so heavily on relentless technicality may often lack compositional focus, that isn't at all the case with Relinquish. The songs are all extremely memorable and simply irresistible - it would take a broken neck to keep me from headbanging like a madman during this album's duration. Speaking of which, the 36:30 playing time was really a wise choice on the band's behalf. This album never "wears out its welcome", so to speak, and instead remains powerful and consistent the entire ride through. I also have to applaud Ron Vento's tremendous production used on Relinquish. The mix is spot-on, powerful, and just insanely heavy and precise.
Though possibly a tad weaker than its successor, Relinquish is a phenomenal effort worthy of 4-4.5 stars. Seldom do I come across an album this brutal and technically demanding that still manages to incorporate memorable and captivating songwriting. That's what I call a quality band! Aurora Borealis are one of the best unknown treasures in the American extreme metal scene; this top-notch album from 2006 is just further confirmation of that. Relinquish comes highly recommended to all fans of Aurora Borealis and extreme metal in general.
1. Myths of the Light (4:51)
2. Let the Games Begin (4:51)
3. Ravaged by Fire (4:47)
4. God Wills It (3:59)
5. The Red Flag (4:47)
6. River Through the Skies (4:03)
7. Tonight We Feast (4:43)
8. Black Snow (4:29)