Here we have another heavy metal 'supergroup' of sorts, comprised of vocalist/guitarist Erik Nilsson (A Swarm of the Sun), drummer Robin Bergh (October Tide), and bassist Niklas Sandin (Katatonia). The Constant is Aoria's debut album, and while you can hear bits here and there of their main bands, they have managed to create something new here that should be of interest to anyone into atmospheric & brooding heavy rock.
Actually, there are parts of The Constant that are even a stretch to call 'metal', as Aoria seem to float within a framework that's somewhat along the lines of recent Katatonia, the mellower works of Porcupine Tree, Marillion, or even Radiohead. Many of the arrangements have a trippy, atmospheric way about them, with Nilsson's vocals dreamy and intoxicating, before brief passages of furious guitar riffs and pounding drums blast into the mix, quickly disappearing to give way once again to the lilting melancholy. This formula is instantly evident on the excellent opener "A Slow Moving Storm", one of the CDs highlights. Repetitive, somewhat jangly chords and emotional vocals permeate the melodic "The Black Heart", a decent enough tune but one that doesn't really go anywhere (an issue I have with much of Katatonia's recent output), while the dark & dramatic "Assassination" features some great vocals from Nilsson and lots of tension from the band as the song starts as a slow burn and eventually builds to a raging climax. In a way, much of this has more in common with post-rock than metal, as there's a bleakness and 'tension building pattern' so to speak on almost every song that is quite common in that genre. The dark, haunting "You Really Gave It All, Didn't You?" is another real highlight here, as the dreary opening notes give way to pummeling riffs, which once again vanish to allow the melancholy to return, an effect that Aoria seem to have mastered pretty well.
The Constant might not be the most earth shattering release you'll hear this year, but if you like dark, atmospheric rock that strays from the gothic side of things, then you might just enjoy this. It's like a mish mash of metal, prog, pop, and post rock, and while I would have liked a bit more variety on the arrangements (some of these tunes all seem to stay at the same speed), there are some great melodies and passages that make this a worthwhile listen.
1.A Slow Moving Storm
2.The Black Heart
5.You Really Gave It All, Didn't You?
6.An Overwhelming Calm