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Aurora Borealis: Praise the Archaic Lights Embrace

It's about time. I was starting to look like a stuffy old fart giving bad marks to so many retro, backward looking bands, but here's one with nothing really unique to offer that I nonetheless really dig. I say they have nothing unique to offer, but the truth is that consistent quality is not exactly growing on trees these days, and Aurora Borealis offers that plus a style that seeks true brutality without having to bottom out the bass end of their production equipment. Cannibal Corpse are obviously role models, as well as a whole generation of catchy 80s thrash bands. But the best reference point would be the Florida swamps from which this band originally emerged under the guidance of Ron Vento. The classic death metal sound that was popularized in that region is characteristic of Praise the Archaic...'s virtues. AB's riffs leave most bands chasing their tails, or so it must seem to all the dizzy groups they manage to run circles around. From a death metal perspective, all the proper ingredients are present, including varied tempos, an abundance of hyper riffs and excellent drumming by ex-Malevolent Creation homeboy Derik Roddy. Praise the Archaic Lights Embrace has been self-released by the band due to a lack of offers, which is a shame and a sin, since they're by far one of the better traditional death bands I've heard this year. If you're truly interested in supporting the underground, head over to and spare these guys a moment of your time.

Added: August 14th 2011
Reviewer: SoT Archives
Hits: 2997
Language: english

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Aurora Borealis: Praise the Archaic Lights Embrace
Posted by Jeff B, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-08-14 15:59:26
My Score:

Released two years after their promising debut EP, Praise the Archaic Lights Embrace was the first full-length outing from American black/death metal outfit Aurora Borealis. Since the release of Mansions of Eternity, the band has seen a major change in their lineup as Tony Laureano has left the drum throne and is replaced by the equally impressive Derek Roddy. Jason Ian-Vaughn Eckert has also been welcomed to the fold as the band's bass player. This means that (as would be the case for much of Aurora Borealis's career), the only remaining member from the previous effort is Ron Vento. Even though this is only their debut album, Praise the Archaic Lights Embrace contains some of the strongest material from Aurora Borealis to date, and is filled to the brim with terrific riffs and outstanding musicianship. Praise the Archaic Lights Embrace suffers from a few technical shortcomings that keep it from reaching the heights of the more-recent Aurora Borealis albums, but the musicianship and compositions are outstanding enough to make this one an easy recommendation.

Stylistically, Praise the Archaic Lights Embrace is a mix of death metal and black metal with an additional technical edge that sets Aurora Borealis apart from many of the genre's pioneers. This album is a bit more black metal-oriented than some of their later efforts, with the fast tremolo picking, high-pitched vocals, and blastbeat drumming immediately reminding me of the Norwegian pioneers. Still, there are quite a few downtuned riffs and uber-technical drum patterns that lean more in the direction of Morbid Angel than Darkthrone. Aurora Borealis has also always had an added technical edge that differentiated them from most old school bands, and that is certainly present on Praise the Archaic Lights Embrace. Derek Roddy's frantic drumming is especially technical - Ron Vento always picked the most top-notch drummers to participate on Aurora Borealis albums, and Derek does an absolutely terrific job here. In addition to being bone-crushingly heavy most of the time, Praise the Archaic Lights Embrace also contains a few melodic sections with acoustic guitars, like in "Calm Before" or at the end of "For Your Comprehension". It adds some nice variation into the mix, and the melodic sections are always placed perfectly.

Although Praise the Archaic Lights Embrace is near-flawless in every regard I've mentioned thus far, the production must be mentioned as the album's major setback. The flat and rather lifeless sound doesn't do the album justice, and the drums often sound too high in the mix. While certainly competent and listenable - it's certainly worth overlooking the sub-par production in exchange for such great music - I really would've enjoyed this album even more if it had a sleek production.

Production flaws aside, Praise the Archaic Lights Embrace is certainly among the better Aurora Borealis albums I've heard, and an easy recommendation to any fan of death/black metal. Especially considering the band has generously offered this (along with the rest of their discography) for free download on their webpage, now seems to be the best time to check out this gem if you've ignored it in the past. I'd say somewhere between 3.5 and 4 stars are deserved for this one. Aurora Borealis certainly got off on the right foot with this debut... and the best was still yet to come...

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