Band – Auriferous Flame
Album – Ardor for Black Mastery
Country of Origin – Greece
Genre – Black metal
Release Date – October 6, 2023
Label – True Cult Records/Stellar Auditorium Productions
Author – Barry Winter
My rule for discovering new black metal bands has long been “Assume they’re fascists until you find out otherwise.” That rule has rarely let me down, and largely helped me avoid Nazis and other weirdos in a subgenre that’s absolutely RIFE with them. When I fell in love with Spectral Lore’s “III” some years back, I was hugely relieved and elated to learn that Ayloss is not only a great musician, but a great leftist and a great guy. Since then he’s released one killer album after another, including a foray into traditional heavy metal with Clarent Blade! So, will this second Auriferous Flame full length deliver?
It’s gonna knock your socks off.
While this album isn’t reinventing the wheel, it does something I call “taking a step to the left.” What I mean is that while fundamentally it is black metal as we know and love it, it’s turned and tweaked and reshaped in small ways that leave it sounding fresh and vital. It’s like when you move your couch a couple of feet and it suddenly looks perfect.
It features a lot of bright tremolo riffing, but between the punchy drums and chunkier, more overtly heavy riffs, there’s no lack of heft here! Plenty of sections are downright *pummeling*, for example the album’s opening salvo “Wielders of Secrets,” or “Beyond Light, Beyond Reason.”
But it’s not all blunt force trauma! There are some excellent melodic sections too. From lead guitar sections on the title track to the misty, synth-led “Behind the Gentle breeze,” or the bass and synth interlude “Ophidian Hallways,” this album is far from a one-trick pony.
Highlights include the punishing “Thaumaturgical Irresolutions” and the classic black metal stomp of the title track, but there’s not a weak track to be found.
Ayloss doesn’t miss. A strong AOTY contender without a doubt.
Barry Winter is a longtime disciple of the cult of traditional heavy metal.