Auroch – Mute Books (2016)

Auroch on Mute Books remind me of an updated rendition of Hellwitch, minus the speed metal infusions, but with much the same penchant for crafting lingering melody out of incredibly dense guitar playing. Other references can include Nile and Absu in the way the technical and the hyperactive segue into passages of heightened mysticism. Lofty comparisons, perhaps, but unlike retro bands content to merely reproduce old sounds, Auroch embrace the past while still very much remaining a band of the present; this latter attribute manifests in the stress on building atmosphere as an element outside the relevant body of a song, but the contracted nature of the music combines with fine rhythmic coloring to make this a lesser deterrent than is normally perceived.

There is a liquid quality about Mute Books, resulting primarily from what at first appears to be the lack of a percussive component to the rhythm guitar. Trey Azagthoth at his best possessed this too, a technique where the riff is drained of all insistent punctuation and is seemingly written in one fell swoop as an extensive “legato” movement. In reality, a subtle awareness of groove is involved, groove that helps to round out the edges and create the impression of continuous motion. That the actual drumming under it all is content to provide a steady jackhammer beat and never resorts to showboating only accentuates this effect. There is genuine metal alchemy in such transformations and Auroch, on Mute Books, are the rare modern occult-themed band that do justice to their pretensions.

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