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Aurora Project, The: Shadow Border

Though Dutch band The Aurora Project have been around for 10 years now, Shadow Border is only their second release, but make no mistake about it, this latest CD sounds very much like a hungry band out to make a statement. Part dark progressive rock, with a healthy dose of progressive metal, Shadow Border contains roughly 55 minutes of compelling music that will take a few listens to fully digest, but once you do the many nuances of what the band have woven together all begin to make sense.

These guys like to patch together lots of different moods and textures in their songs, easily heard on the two excellent opening cuts "Human Gateway" and "The Trial", as extended passages of atmospheric keyboards and dreamy vocals often give way to crushing guitar bombast and pounding drum fills. At times you'll hear bits of Pink Floyd, IQ, Porcupine Tree, or Riverside, but they are fleeting, as The Aurora Project more use the influence from these bands as a way to shape their own vision. Lead singer Dennis Binnekade has a very melodic and passionate delivery, and though you can detect plenty of accent, his English is still easily understood. He's in full command on the almost Marillion-ish "Photonic Reunion", supported by some bouncy synths courtesy of Marcel Guyt and lots of heavy riffs from the team of Remco van den Berg & Marc Vooys. For those that like heavier material, the almost doomy "The Confession" is a real massive piece, dark atmosphere meshing with bone crunching riffs, tasty lead solos, and spacey keyboards. For another twist, there's also the futuristic "Within the Realms", probably the closest this band comes to Porcupine Tree or Riverside here, and the CD closes with the 16-minute epic title track, a real dramatic journey for the listener. Equal parts metal and prog abound on this gem, the band taking you down numerous dark passageways, with a different surprise at every corner.

In an era where many progressive metal bands love to show you just how masterful they can play their instruments (not that we complain about that), The Aurora Project want to make their music stand out by employing space, textures, colors, and emotion in many different ways. Sure, there's no shortage of impressive instrumentation here on Shadow Border, but the moods created by marrying heavy riffs with atmosphere, haunting melodies, and dark soundscapes works wonders throughout this very enjoyable CD. Once again, The Lasers Edge scores a winner-seek this one out people!


Track Listing
1) Human Gateway
2) The Trial
3) Photonic Reunion
4) The Confession
5) Another Dream
6) Within the Realms
7) Shadow Border

Added: August 19th 2009
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score:
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 4371
Language: english

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Aurora Project, The: Shadow Border
Posted by Ryan Sparks, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-02-09 21:31:02
My Score:

Dutch band The Aurora Project has been creating their unique brand of progressive metal for going on ten years now. Their latest endeavor entitled Shadow Border serves up almost an hour's worth of modern sounding, melodic metal that places an emphasis on well crafted songs rather than highlighting the talents of each individual member.

"Human Gateway" commences the album in grandiose fashion but compared to the rest of the disc this is really just a sneak peak of what's to come for the listener. "Photonic Reunion" is the only track under five minutes as the rest of the songs run in the six to seven minute range. Keyboardist Marcel Guyt sprinkles plenty of shimmering textures throughout which offsets the catchy riffs of guitarists Marcel van der Berg and Marc Vooys perfectly on the aforementioned "Photonic Reunion" as well as on songs like "The Trial" and "Within The Realms". Vocalist Dennis Binnekade is like a breath of fresh air as his warm tonality and almost fragile delivery at times is definitely a welcome change from the plethora of operatic belters of most progressive metal outfits. Speaking of progressive, the band definitely reveals this side of their musical personality and saves the best for last on the absolutely epic closing number which is the title track. This multifaceted track is sixteen and half minutes of how best to employ the light and shade method in modern composition.

This was my first exposure to The Aurora Project but it won't be my last 'cause I can assure you that these talented musicians are definitely going to be on my radar from now on.

(originally reviewed for www.classicrockrevisited.com)

Aurora Project, The: Shadow Border
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-08-19 20:21:02
My Score:

Another band from Northern Europe, more specifically the Netherlands, has made its way across my listening desk. The Aurora Project live up to exceedingly high expectations, and it comes as no surprise that their follow up to Unspoken Words is an excellent slice of symphonic progressive rock and metal with lots of atmosphere blended in. The Shadow Border combines soft and heavy themes, excellent instrumentation and melodies and strong vocals that should ultimately please fans of the genre. I was strongly reminded of bands like Porcupine Tree, Riverside, Arena and Pink Floyd after my initial listen. Like those bands, there is a solemnity flowing amongst these seven tunes, an underlying moodiness that pervades much of the album. That is not to say that this is a depressing record, in fact, far from it. Although the subject matter is quite heavy at times, one never gets bogged down by overly depressive themes.

While there are fine instrumental sections, the emphasis is on good songs and not on a "see how fast I can play" mindset. The vocals of Dennis Binnekade are very good. He does not have a deep voice, but it is very melodic often exhibiting a fragile quality, especially in some of the softer moments. He also has the ability to soar when the need arises without overstraining his voice and entering those moments of histrionics that can be so annoying. The rest of the band are equally as talented and include Remco van der Berg (guitars, vocals), Marc Vooys (guitars), Marcel Guyt (synths, samples), Rob Krijgsman (bass) and Joris Bol (drums, percussion).

The songs are driven by catchy riffs and rhythms with plenty of synths weaving throughout giving this music a space-like quality. The guitar parts are often in the mould of Gilmour making comparisons to Pink Floyd inevitable. The riff heavy "Human Gateway" builds up at the start to a dramatic crescendo giving way to lead guitar layered over heavy riffs. The vocals are strong with a slight accent and the phrasing is similar to that used by Oliver Philipps of Everon. In "The Trial" I hear elements of Arena and in particular Pink Floyd, where some of the guitar parts hint of the Division Bell album. Crunchy metal riffage combined with cool synths, changes in tempo and melodic lead guitar adds up to one of the album's best moments. The mood lightens with "Photonic Reunion" containing waves of synths and a melody that should appeal to fans of Marillion.

My personal favourite has to be the epic title track, with its heavy riffs ala Gilmour, nice acoustic guitar, cool synth play and even a jazzy section giving this song a variety of moods and textures. It doesn't hurt that it ends with one of the best lead guitar solos on the album providing a spine tingling moment to be sure.

This is an excellent album and one that I strongly recommend to fans of progressive rock and any of the bands previously mentioned. This will more than likely make my top ten list at the end of the year. Simply outstanding!

(originally written for www.progressiveears.com)



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