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Nox Aeterna - Aurora Borealis

Nox Aeterna
Aurora Borealis
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 23 May 2018, 7:07 AM

NOX AETERNA is a five-headed Melodic Death Metal band from Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Formed in April 2002, they started out as a Symphonic Rock band. To date, the band has released four studio albums. “Aurora Borealis” is their fifth, and contains ten new tracks. The genre of Melodic Death Metal is not new at all, but continues to grow and flourish all over the world. The sound is endearing and combines much of what many Metalheads really crave in their music. Where does this quintet fit today? Let’s get to the tracks and find out.

“Chasing the North” opens with a news report about a group of backpackers lost in a severe winter storm. On the wide spectrum of Melodic Death Metal, I would say it is tipping on the heavier end, with death vocals and guitars on the lower part of the musical spectrum, and just a subtle use of melody. “A Harsh Journey” has some more harmonies out of the gate, mainly in the guitar work. No aggressiveness is sacrificed however. The riffs paint a pretty linear picture when it comes to the movement of the song. “Rainbow of the Night” has an old school Melodeath sound, like something you might hear from ARCH ENEMY, or older DARK TRANQUILITY. I like the use of keyboards here…it adds texture and keeps the song from being too insipid.

The title track is a speedy and rage fueled song, with fast picked guitars and deep vocals. The guitar solo leaves a little to be desired but overall it’s an enjoyable song. “Lost in Darkness” suffers mostly from a repetitive riff on an open note chord. When it ventures out a bit, it goes places, but just doesn’t venture out enough. “Twist of Fate” has some energy at times but just has too much of a straightforward pattern in the riffing and vocals. It isn’t until we reach “Destitute Salvation” that we hear some variance on the album. It’s a slow and lumbering song that hears the guitars climb out of the gutter a bit and spread their wings. The piano and keys are great here. “The Northern Saga” has some rhythm variation from some of the other tracks at first, but settles into a low and angry riff pretty quickly. Here again we get some keyboards that stand alone at times. “The Last Awakening” closes the album. The guitars combine for some nice harmonies at times but disappear too quickly in favor of the main riff.

The coverart is fantastic. When you see the beauty of the northern lights over the cabin nestled in the woods, it’s beautiful. But, the music doesn’t match the picture. I found the album steeped in the earlier years of the genre, when bands were first beginning to explore this sound. There are no clean vocals, which is fine, but it does take away from some possible diversity. Having a keyboardist as a full time member is interesting because his keys are often buried in the mix, unless featured without guitars, but those moments are few and far between. It just lacked dynamism and suffered from too many tracks bleeding into the others. The band might just be too comfortable with their sound and not wanting to change that core.

Songwriting: 6
Originality: 4
Memorability: 5
Production: 6

2 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Chasing the North
2. A Harsh Journey
3. Rainbow of the Night
4. Aurora Borealis
5. Lost in Darkness
6. Twist of Fate
7. Destitute Salvation
8. Old Man’s Tale
9. The Northern Saga
10. The Last Awakening
Lineup:
Arnold Boukes – Guitar & Vocals
Debbie Maasdam – Guitar
Erik de Beijer – Bass
Gerard Baai – Keys
James Koppelaar – Drums
Record Label: Independent
     


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