After the release of their critically-acclaimed album, Catharsis and their departure from Pavement Entertainment, NJ hard rock veterans Aurin went through a period of uncertainty. While plenty of new music had been recorded, and still more being written, the band entered the studio with Mike Ferretti (Sevendust, Thank You Scientist, Saliva) to record what would become their 3rd LP. However, having spent all of their funding to CREATE the album, they didn’t have enough to fund a successful release. Knowing that fans wanted more, they decided to get them involved via the popular crowd-funding platform, Kickstarter. On August 2nd, the band reached their goal, Serotonin‘s release was a certainty and it would come much sooner than anticipated. Having received the final masters back in May, they were chomping at the bit to get these songs into the spotlight.
The album kicks off with lead single, “Pause Rewind Repeat” and, in true Aurin fashion, it pulls no punches lyrically or otherwise. Born from the observation of society’s obsession with anything negative, this song is especially important today. The media tries so hard to disconnect us from one another but there are many who see past their thinly-veiled attempts. “I’m not giving into your delusions of grandeur” Anderson proclaims under chunky, distorted guitars. There seems to be some Breaking Benjamin influences on this track, in the guitar tone.
“Hate You” is a track that has gotten stuck in my head many a time. The main reason is the pop punk-esque “la-las” that would normally not fit on a track as heavy, instrumentally, as this one. Not to mention, the chorus sounds so fun, despite the lyrics being a bit darker in nature. The drums on this track are really bouncy, as well and while they don’t stand out in the mix on this track as much as others… in terms of drums, this is probably my favorite. There are so many different pacings and then it ends off with almost blast-beat speed, hitting the listener with an unexpected but welcome surprise.
“Brother,” the band’s latest single and its predecessor and title track, “Serotonin” are where we begin to hear a lot more pain. This is because these two tracks, especially, were written in regards to feelings that guitarist Andrew Wayne had when he lost his brother, over 5 years ago. While “Brother” addresses the tragedy more directly, “Serotonin” explores the guilt he feels from not being able to do anything to save him. In fact, the album’s artwork is borrowed from actual drawings that his brother left behind. The video for “Brother” featured Tim “No. 37” Martinez and is one of the most powerful videos I’ve ever seen to tackle the subject of suicide awareness. You can hear Wayne’s pain reflected through Anderson’s vocals, amplified ten-fold by his own vocals to come in the acoustic version that closes the album out.
“The Stranger” might be the most evident piece of music that displays influence from Wayne’s favorite guitarist, Mike Mushok of Staind/Saint Asonia. Everything from the tone of the notes to how the track unfolds musically, I believe it’s a tribute to Mushok’s impact on him. This track, lyrically, borrows from the dissociation that comes with loss and the acceptance that death, while sad, is an inevitability. The bass lines from Nina Myers play really heavily into how well this track comes out, as well. While not the first track to have a very clear, present bass line in terms of how you hear it, it is most certainly the most bass-heavy track on the album.
The most ballad-like track on the album, “Sick” is more exploratory in the first verse, displaying a more pop-driven side of Anderson’s vocals. After the first chorus, it does a perfect job of consistently building with each moment. While no stranger to “soaring” choruses, this is the first example of that truly shining on this album. There are a few tempo changes that keep things interesting on this track and a bit of Three Days Grace influence in the bridge.
“Brother (Acoustic),” is the first time that Andrew Wayne has stepped into the vocal spotlight. Clearly influenced by Adam Gontier, he has a really similar sound to him. This track is really hard to put into words because you can hear a clear sense of pain in each lyric, as discussed earlier. His voice cracks and you can hear him holding back tears which adds to the sense of urgency the message conveys. There are no vocal effects, no frills… just a man and his guitar telling a story that no one should ever have to tell.
Serotonin, while much darker in nature than their previous records, is a shining example to what can happen when a band sits down and writes an album that they want to write. There were no outside influences, no labels pulling strings and no expectations or limits on their creativity. This album was born out of tragedy and conveys that message in a way that only music can. It’s an exploratory look into the mind of someone who has suffered for so long with no true way to express that suffering. Most of all, it’s an album that I believe, 1000%, that Wayne’s brother would be proud of and that everyone, regardless of musical preference, should hear and absorb its messages. A clear-cut example of true passion for art, Serotonin is out now via TLG/InGrooves and can be bought/streamed using the links below. For your convenience, you can also check out the videos for “Brother” and “Pause Rewind Repeat,” embedded below.