Band – Aara
Album – En Ergô Einai
Country of Origin – Switzerland
Genre – Atmospheric Black Metal
Release Date – April 3, 2020
Label – Debemur Morti Productions
Author – Joel Sublett, Jr.
Keeping up with the recent slew of black metal releases over the last two years, it can sometimes be a daunting task, seeking out the good ones. Fortunately, this one sought me out. When this was sent to me, I was immediately intrigued by the excellent cover art and one of my new favorite logos in metal. The dreary browns and greys on the album cover, with a solitary robed figure walking away, sets the tone for the melancholic and melodic music that follows. The symmetry and color of their logo fits perfectly with the cover art, and the name Aara, just sounds mysterious.
I had never heard of this band before and I was only too happy to delve further… And was not disappointed. Aara is a two piece, atmospheric black metal band from Switzerland and immediately, the first song shows that these two musicians work very well together. There is a session drummer, and the first song contains acoustic guitar by a guest, as well. Kicking off with an ambient start, featuring keyboards and a bit of atmosphere, the actual black metal starts right before the two minute mark and displays some speedy and well crafted drumming and some great tremolo picked guitar and bass. Once the vocals rear their ugly, yet beautiful head, you can tell you are in for something different and special. The vocalist in this band is a high pitched screamer of a woman, who seems to draw her influences directly from bands such as Hecate Enthroned, Eternal Conspiracy, or even Old Corpse Road. High pitched, anguished and monotonous in the best way, these vocals are one of my favorite elements of this album. So much atmosphere and character here, it is actually difficult to describe. This first track is a winner as a great song, a fantastic introduction to the band and as an album opener. Nine minutes long and yet, somehow, not long enough.
Stein auf Stein is the second movement and is drenched in melody, with two guitars working separate riffs, cymbal heavy drumming with a ton of double kicks and blasts… And those damn vocals! Definitely sensing a strong Hecate Enthroned influence with not only these vocals, but the music as well. However, there is also this strange sense of cosmic brilliance that come from some of the “Cascadian” black metal bands, such as Wolves in the Throne Room and Falls of Rauros. My one complaint with this song, is that it could have double the length. Nearly six minutes was not enough time to enjoy this majestic composition.
On me move to the third song, Aargesang (Aare II), and we are met with bells, thunder and rain, with a bit of ambiance. Pretty typical stuff and honestly not my favorite thing in the world, when it comes to metal, in general. I know this is a subjective opinion, but I feel like ambiance like this, for over two minutes, breaks up the album TOO much. Once the metal kicks in, you realize that this is actually a pretty short track, at less than three minutes of actual black metal. Mist, frozen landscapes and howling winds is what this song reminds me of, without any context. …And then it ends abruptly. Great musicianship, for three minutes, but by far the weakest track on the album.
Probably the strongest track on this album, Entelechie contains a great start, and the dual melodies, atmospheric riffing, and audible and pleasing bass lines, makes this the clear winner. The drumming is absolutely chaotic and constantly moves the song in a forward momentum. Great cymbal work and blasts. Add some absolutely killer vocals and a great ending, and it makes this song my choice for the song that represents this band the most. I’ll keep coming back to this one, guaranteed.
Telôs is the name of the album closer and what a closer it is! Highly contagious riffing and keyboard melodies start this song off and somehow this one comes across as being influenced by bands such as Harakiri for the Sky, or even the highly controversial band Deafheaven. This is all in the best way possible though… Feelings of nostalgia and times long passed, permeate this composition and it’s strange, surrealistic premonition of melancholy and oncoming loss, make this a powerful track. Haunting choir vocals and blasting drums at the conclusion, absolutely destroy, and it is a reminder of how to properly end a song… And an album.
Yet another band I have never heard of, yet it is one of my new favorites, as far as this album goes. Sometimes reminding very slightly of old Alcest, Lantlôs and a bit of the aforementioned bands such as Hecate Enthroned, or Deafheaven… This is an entity that is a bit harder to pigeonhole and I’m totally fine with that. Aara honestly sounds like no other band I’ve ever heard, despite some similar elements to a few groups. Songs like opener Arkanum and my favorite song on the album, Entelechie, really show what this band is capable of and I’m now looking forward to their next output and am planning on delving into their previous album, So fallen Alle Tempel. Switzerland is not a country I generally think of when it comes to quality black metal, but with acts such as Aara and Schammasch, I may have to look further into the bands that reside in this frozen corner of the world. Congratulations go out to Aara, for creating a masterpiece of harmony and blazing black metal. Required listening!