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Friday, October 5, 2012

Album Review: Whales And Aurora - The Shipwreck

Lately, there’s been an awful lot of both creaking ocean-themed concepts and atmospheric hardcore albums knocking about and this little beauty hammers both of those increasingly prevalent events together. These points might lead one to believe that Whales And Aurora are fans of emotionally visceral bands like Devil Sold His Soul or Amia Venera Landscape but having checked out their list of influences it appears they are more likely to listen to blissed-out rumblers like Lento, Mastodon and Russian Circles. Ignoring the incendiary wailing, the Italians’ The Shipwreck certainly lives up to that premise with the band cutting no corners and sinking their teeth in for long, rotational runs to strengthen their musical structures.

Maximum volume and total immersion is required to fully appreciate the band’s efforts here, although blissful sonic drifting is made difficult and, suprisingly, the culprit isn’t Alberto Brunello’s vocal. Andrea Segnini Campesato’s snare mic has been wound up a tad too loud (trust me, you won’t miss its intermittent, aggressive “pop” sound). Instantly recognisable when it’s pounding upon the creaking bones of “Achieving The Unavoidable”, it happily sits deeper in the mix when the swathes of bottom-end cut in through the rougher sections of “Recounting Words”.

The tracks tend to rely on repeating chords which ride over peaks and through troughs, true forces of nature, but every now and then the more experimental edge of the band rises to the fore. It can be found attacking us though the monotonously crashing chord strikes of “The Aground Hard Ship” and sending our minds spiralling with the mesmerically chiming, twinkling strings of the glorious “Abandoned Among Echoes” and the somewhat clunkier “Awakened By The Aurora”.

The combined and varied musical backgrounds of the band has led to an interesting mixture of pleasure and pain; never quite tearing you apart they manage to crush and soothe in equal measure. There’s a depressive quality that settles over the listener like a cowl (the blackened gloom of “Floating On Calm Waters” is the maritime equivalent of a death march), yet the tanker-sized riffs that power the beast are from an entirely different place. The Shipwreck may not ultimately prove to be their greatest achievement, but Whales And Aurora’s waves of attack are something that just have to be experienced to be believed.

Also online (with score and links) @  Ave Noctum = http://www.avenoctum.com/2012/10/whales-aurora-the-shipwreck-slow-burn-records/
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