Review: Augurium – Unearthly Will
That album cover is a 10… how’s the music hold up?
Man-made horrors beyond human comprehension were manifested (or self-released depending on how you look at it) by Augurium on August 25th 2023. Their full length second album Unearthly Will is brutal, unrelenting, well-constructed, performed, written and thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end. Just based on that cover, it was love at first sight. The band clearly put their all into this release and it really shows. For the hardcore Lovecraft fan and extreme metal enjoyer, this project is surely one of the most enthralling releases this summer.
Based out of Regina, Saskatchewan, the group play together like cogs in a well-oiled machine. Going inactive around 2019 and regrouping this year, the band drew together a collection of musicians new and old to create this project. Pre-hiatus members, lead guitarist Logan Barlow and rhythm guitarist Cejay Carnochan, not only pulled their weight with some fantastic riffs but did a great job in filling out the rest of the band’s rogues gallery. The rest of the band all joined as full time members this year but listening to the record, it would be easy to believe this lineup had been together touring for years. Bassist Reid Paraszczynec, and Taylor McDonald behind the kit bring the presence of an entire army to the low end. New vocalist Yianni Pantelopoulos brings the lineup together, and has a tremendous showing as the band’s mouthpiece.
Opening with an ominous prelude “Apollyon Rising” brings an operatic sense of grandiosity to the beginning of the project. Without even barking a guttural, strumming a string or blasting a beat, the band uses pure atmosphere to get the listener on edge and ready for the sonic kraken that’s about to be unleashed. “Inquisition of the Possessed” blasts the album to life and sonically tosses the listener right into the middle of a sacrificial ceremony. The vocals sound absolutely otherworldly and inhuman with the chants behind it. The backing vocals sound like a choir of goblins. “Phantom Parallax” has this really interesting dynamic cue in from the primordial gutturals of the last track that bounce eerily well onto the splashy cymbal work. The percussive underlay cues in the goblin vocals from the last track to fully take shape here. While it’s not as cohesive as the last cut, the song makes up for it in intensity. Combining elements of black metal and deathcore into this extreme metal blend, it’s topped off with not just a spine-chilling breakdown, but a dynamic and blistering solo. The bass really stands out here.
“Sanguine” demonstrates some really great dynamics and cohesion between the band. The guitar and drums especially play off each other well. Bonus points for the really sick fills and ride pattern McDonald displays. This track might have the most mosh-worthy verses on the whole album. “Ancient Grimoire” might be the high point of the entire record. From its bouncy and foreboding opening to its unrelenting groove, into a great build up to an explosive shriek. This song is like a descent into hell or more appropriately a trip to the ocean’s depths. It’s a technically rich track that carries a lot of hidden elements that fill out the sound beautifully. “Inceptus Mysteria” is a terrifying song. It’s genuinely hard to put into words how decimating this one is. It’s only bolstered by having not just a great solo section, but some of the best arrangements on the record.
“Unearthly Will” is a worthy title track. Its placement in the album beginning the final section of the record is an excellent choice. Yet another sprawling technically precise solo. This band has such a talent for crafting some bold and aggressive instrumental sections that not only sound great but grow and change to keep the listener engaged. “As Above, So Below” works as a perfect follow-up from the last track. Once again the cohesion between the band members is on point here. A one word review of this song would be “transcendent”. “ Invictus” is the stunning finale this album deserves. It takes the best elements of the tracks before it and runs wild. Sprawling, pulse-pounding, overwhelming, and completely face-melting. I feel like I’m sinking into the depths of the ocean. What a way to close off a record.
Falling just under the half hour mark at 29:48, Unearthly Will is short, sweet, and destructive. I want more now! The Mark Erskine artwork is something I would hang in my room, it fits the material on the record perfectly. Augurium themselves describe the album as a whole as “the culmination of core ideas that remain consistent and brutal yet experimental. It brings a dark musical aspect to lyrical themes of light and inner thought processes”. I would describe it as a harrowing thrill ride that drags you below the surface, with no chance of making your way back up to ground level. This is one that absolutely deserves your attention.
4.5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Top Tracks: “Ancient Grimoire”, “Inquisition of the Possessed”, “Phantom Parallax”
Unearthly Will was self-released everywhere on August 25th 2023.