Auroch’s Mute Books Is Anything but Silent

Vancouver’s Auroch are my favorite kind of metal band. They play an experimental sort of death metal, they keep their albums relatively brief (but aren’t afraid of an extended track or two), they have stunning and cohesive art, and they show a monumental growth from album to album. Included in that monumental growth is, of course, the band’s new album Mute Books. It not only ticks each item on this silly list, but it may well be Auroch’s defining statement as a band thus far.

Ever since I saw them live at Migration Fest, a wonderful way to kick off a Sunday afternoon by the way, I’ve been eagerly anticipating their latest material. The band played 3 new tracks during their set and even amidst the chaos and somewhat audibly difficult to discern acoustics of a live performance those songs were a promising look into what Mute Books would have to offer us. As it turns out it’s an offer we can’t refuse.

The album itself is divided into 3 chapters, the first of which, titled “Trefoil is the Grail of perdition,” is the most musically experimental of the group. Album and chapter opener “Billowing Vervain” starts out reminiscent of the score of a horror film, distant and muffled keys shimmering in an unsettling manner. The atmosphere is not long for this world though as the song quickly turns into the kind of controlled chaos heard throughout the band’s previous effort Taman Shud. The storm eventually passes and gives way to an eerily hypnotic tapped guitar. This is by far the longest song Auroch has ever written (at least for their 3 LPs) but you’d never guess that while listening to it. It slithers and writhes in an elegant manner, or at least as elegantly as something so monstrous possibly can.

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Similar in nature is the final track of the opening chapter, “Say Nothing,” the second longest track on the album and one that sees itself introduced with chanting. It does a wonderful job of really merging the more primitive pieces of music on the album with their more mystical and mind warping counterparts. These longer tracks really find the band hitting their experimental stride, so it’s almost a shame that there aren’t more of them.

I say “almost a shame” because the shorter songs aren’t exactly slouches, and certainly aren’t just by-the-numbers retreads either. Brief numbers like “The Keeping,” itself part of the final chapter “Passages to Tophet,” manage to be diverse and jump from a mid-paced steamroller to malfunctioning airlock nightmare and back again in just over two minutes.  Middle track “Tipharethigirion” is the closest thing to Taman Shud you’ll get here, but even it feels upgraded, taken to the next level of songwriting with more memorable passages and riffs. One area that I’m eager to dive into that I can’t just yet are the lyrics. I don’t have them and the vocals aren’t always the easiest to understand, but the song and chapter titles reference all manner of alchemic and biblical things, so I’m very curious to see what it all means.

On Mute Books Auroch really sound like a band that have found their footing and are starting to get weird with it. Everything here is just flat out better. The production, the instrumentation (Zack Chandler sounds like a man possessed on drums), the experimentation… it all just comes together so smoothly to create what is, to date, Auroch’s best album. If you fancy yourself a fan of death metal that’s challenging, chaotic, discordant, dissonant and willing to mess with your expectations then Mute Books won’t disappoint. Hell, it may even surprise you.

4 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

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Mute books is out this Friday, Oct. 21st, on Profound Lore. You can order it here and follow the band’s antics here

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Published on: October 20, 2016

Filled Under: Metal, Reviews

Views: 1174

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  • I like it.

    • AeonsOvChaos

      I wonder that Death Metal wasn’t alive during your lifetime, are you shocked about this genre? now tell me where is Steve Rogers please!

      • Shocked? I love Death Metal. Wished I could’ve formed a band instead of being a dictator though.

        • AeonsOvChaos

          Why not War Metal, seems appopriate and It’s killer, you know, bands like Diocletian.

  • W.

    I’m intrigued by “Passages to Tophet”

    “In the Hebrew Bible Tophet or Topheth (Hebrew: תוֹפֶת‎‎; Greek: Ταφεθ; Latin: Topheth) was a location in Jerusalem in the Gehinnom where worshipers influenced by the ancient Canaanite religion engaged in the human sacrifice of children to the gods Moloch and Baal by burning them alive. Tophet became a theological or poetic synonym for hell within Christendom.”

    • Didn’t knew about that.

      Mute Books also refers to alchemy, which is a series of engravings that depict the alchemic process to make a philosopher stone.

      • W.

        I’m not aware of any connections between Tophet and alchemy, so I’m even more curious what the link is now.

    • Leif Bearikson

      The other things that caught my eye were Vervain, which is a often referred to as “tears of Isis” in ancient Egypt and in ancient Christian folklore is said to be the plant that staunched Jesus’ wounds after he was removed from the cross, and then “trefoil” which is symbolic of the holy trinity.

  • I really really dig their kinda occult aura. And I wish I can listen the whole record, because “He Wreath the Cross” sounds both massive, chaotic and magical.

    Good review as usual, mr. Leif.

    • Joaquin Stick

      That guitar part at like 2:00 is magical.

    • Eliza

      The first minute of Say Nothing are great too.

  • That artwork is intricate as fuck. Pointillism always blows my mind. Pierre of Braindead Zine (Goregrind and Grindcore) and Vomit Noir does it to a tee! Check out some of his artwork sometime. This is his most recent for Fiend. Amazing stuff, I can only imagine how long this took.
    https://scontent-iad3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/14355127_899996263438738_5708449495521366457_n.jpg?oh=5837d222070fdd1c232a0b7b8af76e6b&oe=5860B6D1

    • W.

      Fantastic.

    • Yusss, the cover art is just something else and wrap in a very good way the concept of the band.

    • Leif Bearikson

      It’s been forever since I’ve done any art, but in school dot work was always my favorite. Obviously nothing remotely close to this, but even with the crappy stuff I did it felt awesome to accomplish

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    Killer review Leif, I may give this one a gander. The concept is really cool and I like the idea of how they split the album up with the chapters. Superb art as well

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    I’m hearing Timeghoul influences abound. A lot of bands seem to do the Timeghoul worship thing nowadays.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXrVZl4_seI

  • Eliza

    Killer stuff. Also, I know that this has been said several times already, but the cover art is gorgeous. I just love all the interesting details in the image, like the open window in the top right part.

  • JWEG
  • Waynecro

    Great work as usual, LB. This Auroch album is the jam.

  • xengineofdeathx

    This is exactly what I want out of my death metal. Why have I not listened to this band before?!