Aurora Borealis – Worldshapers

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“Worldshapers”, the seventh Aurora Borealis album, is a culmination of the more death metal oriented approach they have been hinting at since “Relinquish”. Stylistically it is similar to its predecessor “Timeline”, both in concept and in design. Being more of a side-story than a direction continuation of the “Timeline” narrative, “World Shapers” is the most versatile and complete Aurora Borealis album to date. While other bands might be considered more readily marketable Aurora Borealis has a level of consistency and quality that few can match, or surpass. “Worldshapers” is another worthwhile addition to the canon of a band that has never delivered a subpar product since forming.

The record derives its strength from its internal and external consistency. Bolstering the masterful songwriting of creative force Ron Vento is the stability within the ranks. Mark Green (drums) and Jason Ian-Vaughn Eckert (bass guitar) man their known positions, and each player is at the top of his game. The evolution that was initiated with “Relinquish” continues as Aurora Borealis explores the death metal end of the spectrum within its death/black metal framework. Thematically “Worldshapers” delves deeper into the “Timeline” concept, but it is a side-story rather than a direct continuation. As in the past releases the lyrics are incredibly well written and thoroughly researched. The atmospheric enhancement through the usage of well-placed studio effects introduced on “Timeline” is further expanded upon and better integrated into the each of the songs.

420_photo‘In the Beginning’ functions similarly as ‘Our Legacy’ on the preceding “Timeline”. “Worldshapers” features the fastest, and most technical drumming yet on an Aurora Borealis record, but each of these relentless tracks is based around wonderful arrangements, dynamic tempo changes and crunchy midtempo sections with flowing bass licks, and a multiple sparkling solos. Opener ‘God Like Redemption’ displays Vento’s further mastery of his chosen style. Despite its leaning towards death metal Vento’s serpentine rasps are at his most hissing. The guitar riffing, and chord progressions are more typically death metal - technical without being excessive, and violent without being overbearing - but weaved through out Vento’s signature melodies. ‘The Oldest Of Dilemmas’ and ‘Watchers From Above’ offer up a number of excellent solos, this is especially the case with the latter track. ‘This Is the Way They Choose to Die’ has the best bass licks on the record, with Jason Ian-Vaughn Eckert confidently breaking away from solely doubling the guitars, and writing some truly funky lines that complement the riffs, and chords. ‘And to the stars Returned’ is the most melodic, and diverse, the trio has ever sounded without doing concessions to its overall heaviness.

“Worldshapers” isn’t a direct continuation of the “Timeline” concept in the traditional sense, but a side-story set within the same conceptual framework. Thus “Worldshapers” chronicles a self-contained plot about the colonization of other habitable planets across the multiverse by alien lifeforms after mankind’s end on Earth. The first half concerns itself with abductions and experimentation on human subjects as a way of obtaining mankind's genetic blueprint. The second half of the album is decidedly more philosophically inclined, such as the pondering on the essence of human existence in ‘The Oldest Of Dilemmas’, mankind’s nature to destroy itself (‘Watchers From Above’, ‘This is the Way They Choose to Die’), ‘A Subtle Way to Eradicate Them’ poses that man’s god images come from superior extraterrestrial lifeforms, and their obfuscation of their origins and true objectives. ‘Silent War’ details said extraterrestrial lifeforms experiments through the ages and through the multiverse. Concludingly ‘And to the Stars Returned’ describes the inevitable and inexorable passage of time that even other lifeforms are not immune to, and that our enslavers must eventually answer to higher beings of their own.

There’s a wonderful sense of cohesion, conceptually and musically, to Aurora Borealis’ second era. While “Worldshapers” ramps up the speed once again it never loses sight of its melodic sensibilities. No other band combined death – and black metal as fluently as Aurora Borealis did over the course of its discography. Arguably Florida bruisers Order Of Ennead took a page or two from what Aurora Borealis carved out. “Worldshapers” is a refinement of what “Timeline” did prior, and the fact that both records are structured similarly is advantageous for the flow of each of the songs. Each member delivers an exemplary performance on the record, and surely Mark Green will follow in the footsteps of his illustrious predecessors Tony Laureano, Derek Roddy, and Tim Yeung. Years of toiling away in the underground have finally paid off as now more than ever Aurora Borealis is getting the accolades and critical praise they deserved many years ago.

As per usual “Worldshapers” was recorded at Nightsky Studios in Waldorf, Maryland with Ron Vento producing. “Timeline” introduced a previously unheard level of smoothness, sheen and crispness without sounding overly digital. “Worldshapers” uses the same template but enhances the production with more depth, texture and range. Unlike a lot of contemporary productions the bass guitar can actually be heard. Once again Vento commissioned artwork by Mike Hrubovcak (Divine Rapture, Monstrosity, Vile). For the first time since “Time, Unveiled” Aurora Borealis worked with a label again. “World Shapers” was released through Xtreem Music, the label from Avulsed frontman David Sánchez González (Dave Rotten), to lauding reviews the world over. In partnership with its Spanish label Aurora Borealis now reached a wider audience than ever before, and the accolades bestowed upon the trio brought a renewed interest in its catalog of earlier albums.

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