Empire Auriga – Ascending the Solar Throne (Moribund)Sunday, 29th June 2014
Given the cover and logo font, this one seemed a bit curious considering the black metal base and Moribund label. Touted as “ahead of it’s time,” Empire Auriga is a peculiar blend of black metal, ambience, and industrial. Not peculiar in a bad sense, but in the sense that it feels somewhat familiar, but there’s something about the blend that the band makes all their own.
Given the black metal pedigree, do not walk into this one thinking it will be screams and black beats and tremolo picking. There is a dark aura of calm that flows its way through Ascending the Solar Throne. Slow and methodical, worthy of it’s planetary cover with a sometimes eerie and sometimes mournful approach to the material. Surely fans of Progenie Terrestre Pura’s U.M.A. will accept this album with open arms, as it almost feels like a more sorrowful and trance-like cousin to said album. Where U.M.A. had some more typical black metal moments, Ascending champions itself as a more ambient and industrialized beast, with more reflective, minimalized riffing and scant rasps. There are more spoken word sounding vocals on the album than there are blackened screams, and those screams are a bit mechanized and lower in the mix.
If you are looking for the soundtrack to floating through space, Ascending the Solar Throne is probably your best bet. Oddly relaxing and peaceful, it’s a testament to how far the ‘black metal’ tag can be pushed without sounding like it was misused. While there are just a few moments that seem to drag, the overall impression the album leaves is that of curiosity and wonder. With many black metal bands taking to the woods and trees, it’s nice to see that some are now exploring space and otherworldly dimensions. It’s a topic primed for the taking, and in that sense, Empire Auriga is surely ahead of their time.