- The Ritual Aura
- Tech Death/Avant Garde
- Perth, Western Australia
- September 1, 2019
Before even pressing play I am more or less in love with this album and I think the concept of Morrowind Metal has been a long ass time coming. Morrowind was the game of my life, no doubt about it, I found it at Video Ezy on original XBOX when I was 11. I played Morrowind and only Morrowind until Oblivion was released on 360 when I was 15. I have an encyclopedia like memory of that game and its many quest lines, as well as exploits. I found that fucking Dwemer Cube about 300 times. I’ve played it plenty as an adult too, fully modded. This is even more in my wheelhouse than Dark Souls. The Ritual Aura are also an Australian band with great album art. The music would have to suck more balls than I can imagine being sucked to fuck this up.
Weird start, that’s all I can really say about double open. I feel the initial symphonics were more hit than miss which was a major worry for me. The two opening tracks should have been a shorter first track and longer second track. The third track which is the first one over 2 minutes, actually brings some context to this madness and is an enjoyable song that makes sense. A bit of a delayed start. “Sunder II” is reminiscent of avant garde metal bands like Ephel Duath or Maudlin Of The Well. Combined with the rawer production it makes for a pretty captivating sound. The symphonic elements certainly improved with each track as well.
Guitars are key on Velothi with some energetic performances that stand out a lot when compared to other death metal guitarists. There’s a more vintage feel on the licks – it’s an expressive tone that’s capable of running solo for entire tracks. If it needs to, it’ll simply battle some symphonics-on-demand with shimmering mimicry. The vocals add are standard and serviceable, suitable for the lofi aspect of the music. Consistent, certainly and never unwelcome. The cleaner vocals are highly enjoyable, reminding me of Cynic and Between The Buried And Me, but were far less common, I’m assuming due to the structure of the album. There’s the perfect amount for a 29 minute run time and not a drop more. The majority of it is guttural growls that blend into the mix.
Beyond the presentation, Velothi doesn’t bring to mind a whole lot of Morrowind imagery until “Keening I” where the sound takes a more mystical turn. The sound at first feels a lot more scifi – par for the tech course – than fantasy which can be harder to pull off. Something the more natural symphonic sounds help a lot with. It ends perfectly with a short orchestral instrumental that threads the Morrowind theme through the song, quite emotionally gripping and an eloquent end note summarising the essence of Velothi.
The basic story of Morrowind is that the player character in a fantasy medieval setting is destined to become a god but in order to do that he must run up a mountain, find three tools and destroy a very literal heart deep inside a volcano to destroy some other god called Dagoth Ur. There are elves, vampires, Cults, Imperials, wizardly disputes and all sorts of crazy shit. Magic everywhere and it’s interactable too, you can make shoes that let you fly really fast but the wearer is rendered completely blind. You can make a potion that fatally poisons you and mortally heals you at the same time and you can name it “XXXX Gold”. It’s a creative space.
I feel the same way about The Ritual Aura – Velothi really gets its footing by the end and comes out with some stimulating audio ideas. Overall this album is intriguing and musically capable. Fans of progressive death metal, tech death and symphonic death will find something to appreciate here, if not the entirety of it’s forgiving duration. It competes, if not beats, recent Aussie releases in the genre such as A Million Dead Birds Laughing and Aversions Crown.
Check it out for a unique 2019 experience.
Carcassbomb @ Noob Heavy Team