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Aurora Borealis – Time, Unveiled

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Upon completion of “Time, Unveiled” Waldorf, Maryland death/black metal unit Aurora Borealis had perfected its brand of Scandinavian underground metal. Aided by a new drummer with Tim Yeung mainman Ron Vento set to write the band’s most concise effort. To the point is exactly what most fittingly describes this record. There are only 7 new tracks, and two re-recorded demo tracks to pad out the album to the required length. “Time, Unveiled” introduced Aurora Borealis to a wider audience thanks to the promotional branch of its mid-level European label. As with the preceding record “Time, Unveiled” - the third Aurora Borealis full-length and fourth release overall - remains true to form and is uncompromising its vision of epic sounding European death/black metal.

Derek Roddy had vacated the drum position as he moved to greener pastures in Hate Eternal. In a curious coincidene Tim Yeung performed on Hate Eternal’s 1997 demo tape and 1999 “Conquering the Throne” debut, whereas Roddy would perform on both its successors “King Of All Kings” and “I, Monarch”. It was the only record with noted drum mercenary Tim Yeung, who made a name for himself with Hate Eternal and would go on to record with Decrepit Birth. Yeung has a better drum sound here than on the Hate Eternal album he was part of and the Decrepit Birth record a few years down the line. Once again Ron Vento handled rhythm -, lead - and acoustic guitars along with providing vocals and laying down the bass guitar arrangements for the recording of the album.

“Time, Unveiled” was the first Aurora Borealis record not to be solely issued under the Nighsky Productions imprint. Released by Nightsky Productions in the US, and through Danish label imprint Die Hard Records in Europe it is widely considered to be the band’s most financially succesfull effort. No less than three pressings completely sold out in record time.  Much like New York institution Vital Remains the duo pillages the wells of ancient European death – and thrash metal for its song construction. Whereas Vital Remains would lose itself in excessive, overlong and overindulgent instrumentation for its post-“Dawn Of the Apocalypse” output, mainman Ron Vento rather never forgot that writing songs always trumps the most technically proficient of playing. The relentless drumming along with Vento’s patented riffing and melodic sense makes Aurora Borealis one of the truly unique entities in the American underground scene, and internationally.

3The album is shorter compared to previous ones, with only 7 new tracks. Again, the black metal influence is more pronounced here in regards to the riffing and melodies but overall it is thoroughly death metal in architecture and song construction. In comparison to its predecessor the increased levels of technicality and overall complexity, especially in cuts as ‘Sky Burial’, ‘Berserker’, and the uniformly vicious ‘Reign’, are notable. ‘Reign’ is bookended with the interplay of an acoustic - and electric guitar, and is somewhat reminiscent of Death’s touching instrumental ‘The Voice Of the Soul’ that way. It also has guest vocals by future contributor Mike Hrubovcak (Divine Rapture, Monstrosity, Vile). ‘The Last Day’ and the closing minutes of ‘Searching’ lay the stylistic framework for the subsequent album “Relinquish”. The solo in ‘Searching’ is one of the best, and most emotive that Vento has written. Along with increased density Aurora Borealis harness a European melodic sensibility that is often lost on American practitioners of the genre.

As before the session was recorded at Nightsky Studios in Waldorf, Maryland with Ron Vento producing. Contrasted to its predecessor the production is much thicker, and more death metal oriented in that respect. What “Northern Lights” lacked in bass-heaviness is duly rectified here with increased prominence for both the bass guitar, and Yeung’s nearly constant kickdrum blasts. “Time, Unveiled” was the last to feature the stunning artwork of long-time artist Jay Marsh. On subsequent efforts Vento would commission digital artwork from Pennsylvanian graphic designer, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and long-time supporter Mike Hrubovcak (Divine Rapture, Monstrosity, Vile). With only 7 original songs “Time, Unveiled” is the most compact of all Aurora Borealis albums up to that point. In order to make up for this dearth of new material the record is padded out by the inclusion of demo material by the pre-Aurora Borealis band Lestregus Nosferatus. The two tracks constitute the “Oh Come All Ye Faithful ... Tonight We Feast” demo tape from 1995, which were re-recorded for the 1996 “Mansions Of Eternity” EP.