Aornos – ‘Mors Sola’ Album Review

Aornos is a Hungarian black metal band (in actual fact one man – Algras) whose inspiration comes from the more experimental end of the genre including Ihsahn, Arcturus, Emperor and Satyricon.   Mors Sola, or together ‘til death is the band’s second full-length album, originally issued in September 2016 via Symbol of Dominion and Kritallblut records. Featuring nine tracks, the majority of which rampage beyond the six-minute mark, Aornos offer darkly poetic lyrics that hark back to the hallucinatory writings of Blake, something admirably bought out by the ethereal synth that is woven through the blazing guitars.

Opening with ‘into the night’, there is no easing of the listener, Algras going on the assault straight away. Musically it recalls early Dimmu Borgir, although spoken-word passages also draw upon Emperor’s incantations and it’s clear that Aornos have the ambition to draw from the masters as they incorporate martial beats, solemn riffs and eerie orchestration over the course of the opening piece. Better still is ‘the dream’, a devilishly convoluted piece with synth choirs and a churning riff that has considerable power behind it. The recording is still on the raw side, but Algras expertly builds up layers of synth and guitar into a solid wall of noise that is utterly irresistible and black metal fans will find themselves captivated by the time ‘a dream’ spins to its conclusion. ‘Lone’ is as black as molasses with its gruelling vocals and treacly riffs sweetened only by the light shimmer of synth that seems to swirl amidst the cacophony. One of the album’s shortest tracks, the sinister calm of ‘Oblivion’, an instrumental piece, with its echoing atmospherics and minor-key ambience perfectly paves the way for ‘the die is cast’, a truly magisterial piece of music built around pulverising drums and arcing riffs of primal savagery.

Remaining in the realm of the majestically arcane, ‘where hate and lightning truth born’ draws lyrically from Nietzsche and Algras’ music perfectly fits the gravitas of the themes. Harrowing and ferocious, ‘where hate and lightning truth born’ is an album highlight and once again underscores the strong influence of Emperor upon Algras’ style. Arising ‘From the nameless’ pit’ comes a track that once again heads into the more synth-enhanced sounds of early Dimmu. Perhaps the weakest track here it is, on the one hand, a fine black metal track but, on the other, it draws so close the melodic style of Dimmu that it’s hard not to imagine you’re actually listening to that band. Things get very much back on track with the minor-key misery of ‘Dysangelium’, Algras’ subtle guitar work providing a suitable elegant intro to the track before the guitars come crashing down like hammer blows once more.  The album ends with the existential dread of ‘quasar’, a track propelled by an awkward stair-stepping riff built on an earth-shaking foundation of relentless blast beats that threaten to reduce the very foundations to rubble. Better still is a spacey mid-section that sees the music head into dark ambient territory, the guitars echoing gently before one final riff tears them asunder, plunging the track into a stygian blackness that marks it out as one of the finest moments on the record.

‘Mors sola’ is a powerful offering from Aornos, building upon the eternal legacy of Emperor and, by incorporating lyrics from the likes of Poe and Nietzsche, emphasizing the poetry that exists at the dark core of black metal.  There is much here that will be familiar to black metal fans and, inevitably, the best tracks are those which attempt to break out from the mould – tracks like ‘Oblivion’ and ‘the die is cast’ – rather than those which honour their illustrious forebears a touch too much. Nonetheless, this is an impressive and immersive offering that will satisfy those looking for eloquence and brutality in equal measure. 8

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