Album: Panacea [EP]
For as popular as it’s becoming, I’ve never been the biggest fan of overtly groovy, “djent” styled deathcore and metalcore acts. Often times, their efforts seem unbalanced–placing too much weight on slamming, hard-hitting heaviness or ambient, ethereal atmosphere–creating a half-assed sounding release which is uninteresting at best. That said, upon cracking into Auras’ EP Panacea, I was skeptical to say the least. However, less than two minutes into this stellar, spacey yet extraordinarily devastating release, I was shocked at the diversity and level-headed approach with which Auras crafted Panacea. Two parts filthy, grinding groove, two parts blunt, slamming metalcore and one part devastating, crushing deathcore, this release is one which will surely change your previous perceptions of “space-groove” styled deathcore.
While Panacea begins subtly enough, it soon morphs into a chimeric steamroller of an EP. Auras provide a gentile hint of the groove-based heaviness the listener is bound to behold in the instrumental introductory track, “Emerge.” However, “Emerge” progresses–using the less-than-a-minute run time to show you what riffs and fills the band has to offer–into “Sciolist,” a dynamic, rhythmic juggernaut of a track. It is in this track where the listener gets to truly witness the explosiveness to be found within the band’s collective songwriting ability. In one hand, there is the stunning use of shreddy, high-flying riffs used to create light, quick and flowing moments in every song. In the other, however, there is the band’s secret weapon: crushing heaviness, as seen in “Sciolist”’s climactic breakdown which knocks the listener right back onto their ass. It is as if the band’s technical, progressive elements are the match which lights the fuse that ignites Panacea’s powder-keg of unending, unfathomable heaviness.
The listener is subject to Auras’ most beautiful shining moments throughout the release–whether it’s the riff-heavy catchiness found in “Sciolist” or the stellar, hyper-melodic ambience found amongst the guitar solo in “Aporia.” Indeed, for the latter parts of “Aporia,” the guitar seems to borrow elements of jazz and blues songwriting, while the drums follow suit in the introduction to the dynamic journey that is “Chimerical.” It is on this dynamic, extraordinary track where the listener realizes how enjoyable and wonderful the vocal element to the band is. Rather than just another element to syncopate with breakdowns and heavy chug-a-longs, the vocals enhance the groovy-yet-ethereal ambience which runs pervasive throughout the track. However, the band’s most shining example of sheer beauty is in the instrumental track “Susurrus.” With bouncy, fun drumming and bass-and-guitar dynamics which roll and frolic together, the song is as if candy to the ears. However, while the band’s ambience is deliciously sweet and smooth, it is far from innocent, as it alone creates the false sense of security which is devoured by the overwhelming crush Auras bring to the table.
Just as the vocals command in the introduction, “Cascade” opens the floodgates, unleashing an epic track’s worth of pent up aggression with just enough spacey, interesting ambience to keep it from getting claustrophobic. Auras’ heaviness–nagging persistently throughout this track, along with many others–is a crushing combination of deep, guttural vocals and pounding, earthy drums. The drums, punchy and fill-laden roll a solid foundation for the bass to place poppy, groovy and heavy riffs over (“Cascade” has more than it’s fair share of this). Meanwhile, the guitars reach a stunning dialectic where one is a deep, groovy and subterranean chug and the other is a riffy, technical lead. Where this setup allows for a constant trickle of heaviness, this isn’t always the case. “Sciolist” and “Cascade” both have climactic, unfathomably crushing breakdowns, while the djenty, slamming groove in Panacea’s title track is also jarring and beautifully monotonous. The punchline here–no pun intended–is that Auras create a peaceful palace of ambient, ethereal metalcore only to pull the hood over the listener’s eyes when they least expect it and deck them in the face.
I, more than most, understand being skeptical of the hype surrounding technical/progressive/”djenty” deathcore. However, some bands do it right–Auras just so happens to be one. From the wonderfully crafted instrumentation to the crushing-yet-fluid vocal work, Panacea is, for lack of a better way to put it, one Hell of an album. The listener will find their blood pumping and their head bobbing from the subtle setup in “Emerge” or the stunning, beautiful climax of “Panacea”–and every moment in between.
For Fans Of: The Dali Thundering Concept, Volumes, Entities, Bermuda
By: Connor Welsh/Eccentricism