Auroch Think You Shud Give Them a Shot
It’s no secret that I’m pretty damn fond of Profound Lore’s roster. But even considering the label’s past greatness, 2014 is a banner fucking year for them. A big part of that are huge contributions from new blood. Artificial Brain came out of nowhere and dropped a jazzy, Gorguts-ian slab of tech-death in our laps, and Profound Lore’s penchant for death metal continues with the latest from Auroch. Not that I haven’t loved PL’s notable DM releases so far (Mitochondrion, Impetuous Ritual, Dead Congregation, and, oh yeah, motherfucking Portal) but there’s a ferocity and technicality to Taman Shud that makes the band less ominous and more dangerous. While many of their label-mates get lost in the misty noxiousness of Incantation, Auroch stem from the exposed roots of Morbid Angel and Suffocation. But with a sly sheen of black metal and plenty of atmospherics provided with a soft touch, the band stand out from their scraggly peers. Taman Shud is a concise, nasty record. The band that made it would be an asset to any label, let alone Profound Lore.
I feel guilty using Auroch’s label as a framing device, as it draws attention away from them. They’re really fucking good at what they do, and their latest is a fine distillation of it. Taman Shud crams everything you’d expect from a next-level-yet-brutal death metal record, but without any of the fat. And I mean any: Shud clocks in at 25 minutes but feels completely substantial. Auroch don’t specialize in grindy tech-death, either; there are big, fat-ass grooves and muddy tunneling riffs that sound like they were swiped from Morrisound sometime in the mid-‘90s. And while there’s atmosphere, Auroch stay completely on point. There are two instrumental tracks, and they’re so well-woven into Taman Shud’s aesthetic that they’re more than just a part of the scenery. Death metal has a tendency to get lost up its own ass when trying to include a little quiet in between slam-a-thons. Auroch sound like they may not even know where their ass is.
This isn’t a beige exercise in brevity, though. Taman Shud is loaded with personality. The hairpin tech-death riffs that provide the backbone of “Novemportis” sound initially dissonant for the sake of dissonance, but a closer listen reveals that they’re well-sculpted and declarative. “Noxious Plume” manages to sneak a slam into things without sounding forced or desperate (and this is after a decade or so of every guy in a Suffocation longsleeve shoehorning as many into whatever he could find). But that only provides a tether back to the genre’s roots, as it’s surrounded by fetid Immolation grooves and some thrashy stuff to throw a solo over. And like any good blackened death metal record, the “black” is sparingly but effectively used: “Octavo” introduces it as a tool instead of as an example of how diverse Auroch can be. Taman Shud is both thoroughly averse to bullshit and coming from a little-explored pocket of the death metal galaxy. I don’t know if you’ll hear anything this simultaneously succinct and expansive for a while. Plus I’m pretty sure the title track has some didgeridoo at the end.