The Ritual Aura – Laniakea (Lacerated Enemy Records)

Sunday, 20th September 2015
Rating: 8/10

As much as this scribe enjoys some quality technical death metal, there’s getting to be a lot of it. Everywhere you look, a new band pops up and tries to dizzy the listener with a technical affront that melts the brain. But much of it soulless and bloated. Arriving from Australia, The Ritual Aura are here to show that it’s still possible to wow the listener without resorting to just turning brains to jelly.

Admittedly, one of Laniakea’s greatest strengths is restraint and brevity. It should be noted that it is only 26-minutes start to finish, which includes opening and closing piano pieces (which clock in at about a minute each) and a brief instrumental midway through the disc. So you are left with about 23 minutes, but boy is it dense! The band often eschews the verse-chorus-verse formatting, leaving a dizzying display of jaw-dropping riffs and technical flourishes. There are bits of groove here and there, such as on “Era of the Xenotaph,” but the band does effectively cut away just about all of the fat here. It’s a very impressive display of musicianship, but it means nothing without some feeling right? Despite the wallop of mind-melting riffs, the band also incorporates a more sci-fi/progressive structure of a band like Decrepit Birth to mesh with their Beyond Creation-level technicality. Vocally, everything is up to par with the mid-range growls, but you may notice that this is a very instrument-driven album. The vocals provide only a minimal piece, but you’ll be so attentive to the rest of the music you may not even notice (the effective cleans on “Erased in the Purge” might get your attention though).

The Ritual Aura aren’t re-writing the tech death playbook, but they sure do know how to play to its strengths. Every trope, from the sci-fi flavor to the blitzkrieg of technical riffing, is here but they make it into something that is their own. Again it must be mentioned that the power of knowing when enough is enough is key here, and it makes Laniakea a more powerful album because of it.

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