Saturday, May 11, 2013

JERKING THE CIRCLE Vol I: Beyond Creation - The Aura

Featuring the adults from Peanuts on bass guitar!

Welcome to Jerking the Circle!  A new series wherein I tackle seemingly universally well loved albums that I can't help but feel actually kinda suck.  Today I shall steel myself against the waves of vitriolic nationalist scorn, as I'm here to point out to everybody that the latest Quebecnichal band that's apparently taken the metal fandom by storm, Beyond Creation, is actually not all that good or interesting.

A few quick things right off the bat; yes, I used to sing this album's praises back in early 2011 when it first dropped.  The things I said about it back then are still true to an extent, but with time the album really grows away from you, as the poorly thought out compositions, excessive noodliness, and just overall shoddy execution really begins to grate on one's ears.  Secondly, yes, the bassist from Augury is stunningly talented, and his fretless tones really help give the album an identity.  Unfortunately, for all the band member's skill, none of them can put their ideas together in an enjoyable fashion.  The Aura is basically a 52 minute blur of faceless technicality and wrrrow WRRROW sounding basslines.

And yet, that seems to be the main draw of the band.  On the few occasions where I can break my head above the overwhelming flood of ejaculate and catch my breath, I hear praise that champions the band's outside-the-box approach, heavy melody, and that ever prevalent fretless bass.  All of this stuff is true, the bass is above even DD Verni in the "look at me! I'm important!" department, there is an absolute abundance of melody, and the songwriting is very... erm, "progressive".  Upon my first listen to this, I was reminded of fellow Francophone Habs fanatics, Neuraxis, but that comparison doesn't really stick outside of the first song and a couple occasional sections here and there (like in "Le Detenteur").  I like Neuraxis because they're basically just really, really fast death metal, complete with real riffs played at blinding speed.  Beyond Creation here is, more often than not, true to the common criticism of being a group of dudes just playing a bunch of stuff.  Just that.  Stuff.  That's what The Aura is.  It's just a bunch of... stuff.

It's hard to point out specific sections because there are so many different things happening that all somehow manage to sound the same.  There are a couple traditional breakdowns scattered about (like in "Coexistence", "Injustice Revealed", and the 11 minute failed epic, "The Deported"), some more tripped out, proggy moments, the really cool Neuraxis styled riff batteries, and absolutely incessant "wrow wrow" bass.  Seriously, it permeates through every single moment, regardless of what the rest of the band is doing, and it's more distracting than anything.  Maybe it's like King Diamond where his voice is annoying to some people but absolutely integral to both Mercyful Fate and his solo band to others, but here I just can't get behind it.  Steve DiGiorgio plays a fretless bass too but he doesn't stand in front of your face and just woobly wrow wrow in your face for a whole goddamn Sadus album.  That dude from Hibria gets crap for playing too many notes as well, but man he reins it in for most of the songs and just decides to showcase the fact that he has thirteen fingers every once in a while, he isn't desperately trying to push the guitarists out of his way at every opportunity.  No I cannot let this go.  It's so fucking distracting, I forget what most of the album sounds like because I just keep remembering the modulated moose bellows every goddamn bar.  Seriously, stop it, Jaco, before I sic a kung fu superbouncer on you.

Forcing your way past the excessively irritating moan of the bass can be a challenge, but if you can somehow manage it, you'll find that the rest of the songs really aren't all that interesting.  They get a lot of kudos for being proggy, but apart from the occasional tripped out and atmospheric interlude, I'm not entirely sure why.  I don't mean to imply that I'm devaluing this for being pretty standard, but apart from the lengthy runtimes, yeah The Aura is pretty standard.  Yeah yeah it doesn't follow the traditional verse-chorus-yakkity-yak template, but you know who else doesn't?  Almost every other death metal band on the planet.  Unconventional structuring is pretty much the convention in death metal, and the mere fact that Beyond Creation tends to use more sections per song than most doesn't inherently make them any more progressive or advanced than Cannibal Corpse.  But even with the nomenclature dispute aside, nothing here manages to stick.  It's odd because they do a lot of different stuff, but it's all thrown together in a really slapdash style.  "The Deported" is a great example, because it kind of wanders in and out between high tempo breakdowns and slow, jazzy solo sections throughout the entire eleven minute runtime, and it manages to do so with only one coherent transition.  And even if it was more cohesive and tied together by an idea more complex than "tapping sections, weird off-time jazz percussion, and BASS BASS BAAAAASS", it wouldn't really matter because the individual sections of each song are pretty dull themselves.  The entire album just kinda happens without much consequence.  No particular part will grab you due to a very well done riff, or great solo section, or memorable melody, or strong climax, or pretty much anything.  This album plateaus from the start and never gets more or less interesting as it goes on. 

So yeah, The Aura is a collection of well performed but utterly uninteresting tech death pieces that wouldn't stand out in the slightest if it weren't for that motherfucking bass.  I get it though, I really do.  I understand that they're playing to their strengths because the man is a very proficient bass player, the issue is that none of the members can count "songwriting" as one of their strengths.  Beyond Creation is like that one dude who has incredible puck handling skills and can make crazy trick shots in a shootout situation, but the instant you put him on a team you realize he can't pass and has no idea how to handle defense and causes a bunch of turnovers.  There really isn't a whole lot I can recommend other than showy instrumentals, and that really doesn't make for a worthwhile album on the whole.

RATING - 30%


  1. You're fucking stupid.

    1. That's insightful. Care to elucidate as to why?

    2. Opinions can't be wrong, your review isn't wrong, yet this anonymous guy's opinion about you being stupid isn't wrong either.