Son of Aurelius – Under a Western Sun (Self-Released)Tuesday, 10th June 2014
The last Son of Aurelius album (and first technically speaking) was released back in 2010. The Farthest Reaches was a promising effort in technically driven melodic death metal. Far from the most original album on the planet, but their ability to push the proggy and technical aspects into their material was certainly worthy of merit. Seemingly all but vanishing after the rapid re-issue of said album, Sons of Aurelius have resurfaced, but may not appear the way you might remember them.
Massively ambitious in scope, Under a Western Sun is over 70 minutes of prog metal meets technical melodic death metal. Underneath it all, the Son of Aurelius of The Farthest Reaches does still retain some of it’s original sound (check “The Prison Walls” for the closest you’ll come to this), but much more melodic in tone. Much the album lets progressive metal take the wheel and run with it. Some growl fanatics may have some initial trouble getting into Riley McShane’s (Inanimate Existence) clean vocals but they are worth any and all effort. Sounding almost more Maynard James Keenan than anything else at times, they are genuine and emotive, more so than a number of bands parading around generic clean vocals with no soul. Honestly, much of the music here is much more catered to these clean vocals, injecting some heavier riffs to add in some variety.
It’s truly the merger of Son of Aurelius’ wide palette of influences that gives them such an interesting and compelling sound. You have a heavier track like “Coloring The Soul” that rises above mere tech death with the incorporation of some softer prog moments while a more melodic song like “Clouded Panes” is given some needed oomph to drive home the point with some growls and blast beats. No matter the moment, Under a Western Sun is sure to please with a number of compelling riffs and vocal patterns in each song. Whether it’s the technical flourishes of “A Great Liberation” or the pure tenderness of “Blinding Light,” there’s bound to be something to strike your fancy the more you listen.
The only real negative that can really be thrown around is the length of the album itself. It’s a lot to take it, but ultimately a rewarding experience. It would have been easy for Son of Aurelius to keep going from where The Farthest Reaches left off and make part II, so kudos for them for going the extra mile and adding an entirely new level of depth to their sound without abandoning their roots. This is the opposite of a sophomore slump.