Following on from 2016’s ‘Heliospectrum’, Canadian progressive quartet AURAS have returned with sophomore effort, ‘Binary Garden’.
With a polished production, the group’s blend of crushing guitars and new wave inspired synth beds create a marriage of atmosphere and groove.
Encompassing the tone of the record, ‘Momenta’ delivers shimmering pads hidden underneath sharp and off-kilter chugging guitars. With guitarists Josh Ligaya and Aaron Hallman working in tandem to create unexpected rhythms, the track forces the djent inspired guitar patterns to sit alongside moving synths and claustrophobic drum patterns.
The first half of the record continues along the same vein, crafting dense and intricate rhythmic patterns. ‘Erode’ injects a sleazy groove into the sprawling riffs and thunderous staccato guitars. Showcasing his range, vocalist Eric Almeida brings a barrage of piercing screams, low growls, and percussive hooks to ensure the track doesn’t become stale.
By choosing to front load the record with percussive guitar patterns and unrelenting heaviness, by the time ‘Whiteout’ appears, it’s a welcome addition for the tonal change. Still maintaining urgency, rapid and broken synths lead Almeida‘s bark towards a wide and open chorus, consisting of melodic octaves and a stunning vocal interplay between Almeida and Ligaya.
As we reach the record’s second half, AURAS take detours into more melodic and dynamically moving territory. ‘Essence’ blends clean finger-picking with jagged guitars as Nathan Bulla adds nuanced double kick patterns to the composition. Whilst melodically simple compared to previous efforts, the group maintains interest by utilising both vocalists effectively.
This isn’t to say that the last stretch of the record is rooted in ambient soundscapes and ballads, as tracks such as ‘The Demoness’ prove. Pushing the limits of rhythm, Ligaya and Hallman create unnerving patterns as Almeida keeps the flow of the song. Delivering sludge style breakdowns and an unexpected coda, the track brings an intense energy.
Ending the record with ‘Abyss’, the group give an insight to where they could go next, especially with Ligaya. Delivering an aggressive and gritty clean vocal to the chorus, the closing moments of the record become a highlight.
Whilst the record navigates fresh ideas on progressive metal, the promise of texture that the synth flourishes provide is never fully realised. Nonetheless, ‘Binary Garden’ is a record that could choose any track to be its lead single, and is a triumphant return to the scene.