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There’s little in the way of contesting that Waldorf, Maryland death/black metal formation Aurora Borealis has been experiencing an upward career trajectory ever since “Time, Unveiled” in 2002. While more melodically inclined in their earlier years 2006’s “Relinquish” heralded a far more aggressive approach to the sound the band had perfected in the years prior. The induction of Mark Green in 2011 was instrumental in taking Aurora Borealis to the next level and he is now the longest serving skinsman since his illustrious predecessors Tony Laureano (who went on to Angelcorpse and Nile) and Derek Roddy. “Apokalupsis” is the culmination of the evolution that commenced with “Relinquish”. By and large “Apokalupsis” is the most abrasive and all-out combative Aurora Borealis has sounded to date. Needless to say “Apokalupsis” fits seamlessly into Aurora Borealis’ contemporary repertoire.

It’s unbelievable enough that Aurora Borealis is the vision of just one man: producer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist/lyricist Ron Vento. Assisting Vento are long-time contributors Jason Ian-Vaughn Eckert on bass guitar and drummer Mark Green. Ian-Vaughn Eckert is a consummate professional that can weave flowing funky licks like Mike Poggione (Monstrosity), Jeroen Paul Thesseling or Chris Richards (ex-Suffocation) if given the place and time, but "Apokalupsis" is too singular in its objective to bludgeon to allow him said space. In an ideal world Mark Green would have been presented bigger opportunities at this point in his tenure with the band. For hitherto unexplained reasons this hasn’t occured yet and Aurora Borealis will continue to reap the benefits of his stellar talent until the inevitable bigger names come calling. Green has the makings of a new star in extreme metal drumming and undoubtedly he’s destined to follow in the footsteps of Laureano, Roddy, and Yeung who all went to become institutions in their own right.

Lyrically Aurora Borealis has always been putting many of their contemporaries to shame. Whereas their earlier work dealt with ancient history, mythology and the darker aspects of foreign cultures, “Apokalupsis” expands upon the science fiction concepts from “Timeline: The Beginning and End of Everything” and its companion piece “Worldshapers”. It delves into the theory of Old Earth Creationism and is very much a retelling of the Bible from the perspective of alien entities. As God casted out all rebellious angels he assigned each to a specific star. Each of these stars is custodian to a demon and each demon is trying to break free from captivity to manipulate mankind into their greatest deception. Each demon disguises itself to reach mankind, be it in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve and the serpent or as aliens guiding great rulers (pharaohs, kings, presidents, et al) by their visitations on Earth at various points in recorded history and facilitating the creation of tribal god images and religions. Once these tools are in place they continue the deception to reach their ultimate objective, the Apocalypse or the End Times.

Aurora Borealis has chosen to go in the opposite direction of a band like Monstrosity. Whereas that band went for a more deliberately paced, highly stylized and more melodic iteration of their vintage Florida death metal sound; Aurora Borealis has adopted a more traditional, conventionally percussive direction. Virtually all of trio’s more atmospheric enhancements have been excised on “Apokalupsis”. That is not necessarily to their detriment as it cements that Aurora Borealis can just as easy compete with the likes of Malevolent Creation or Nile as with more progressive-minded outfits as, say, an Obscura or bands of similar persuasion. In fact “Apokalupsis” is probably Aurora Borealis’ least adventurous recording to date in that regard. There are perhaps more than a few shades of “Relinquish” to be found here and the more epic wanderings of “Praise the Archaic Lights Embrace “ and “Northern Lights” are conspicuously absent. The change is not exactly surprising since “Timeline: The Beginning and End of Everything” provided plenty of hints in that direction that “Worldshapers” went on to consolidate. Those hoping for another ‘Slave to the Grave’ will be left with their hunger but Vento and his Aurora Borealis never disappoint, and they don’t do here either.

“Apokalupsis” is thoroughly traditional. Moreso than any of Vento’s past ventures with his band and it's significant for exactly that reason. This is the best record that Malevolent Creation never released. It easily surpasses Nile’s “Annihilation Of the Wicked” in sheer brute force and makes Morbid Angel’s recent return-to-form sound rather limp and flaccid in comparison. Personally we are more inclined towards Aurora Borealis’ more epic offerings but there’s no contesting that “Apokalupsis” does exactly what it promises. This is by far the Maryland trio’s most apocalyptic opus to date and befitting of the time and title it absolutely refuses to take any prisoners or do any concessions. Dying Fetus might be Maryland’s most popular export but Aurora Borealis have proven to be an underground royalty in their own right. For 28 years and counting Aurora Borealis has proven to be the most underrated US death metal band. Few bands can match Vento’s consistency, work ethic and instrumental proficiency. It remains a question for the ages why his Nightsky Studio facility isn’t more popular with bigger and smaller metal bands alike. Even at their least adventurous Aurora Borealis is leagues better than whatever is popular in the underground right now. It’s about time people start paying some attention to Aurora Borealis lest they be ravaged...

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.