AUGURY — Illusive Golden Age

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AUGURY - Illusive Golden Age cover
4.50 | 4 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2018

Tracklist

1. Illusive Golden Age (5:49)
2. The Living Vault (6:07)
3. Carrion Tide (5:03)
4. Mater Dolorosa (6:50)
5. Maritime (4:31)
6. Message Sonore (3:22)
7. Parallel Biospheres (4:31)
8. Anchorite (8:07)

Total Time 44:20

Line-up/Musicians

- Dominic "Forest" Lapointe / Bass
- Mathieu Marcotte / Guitars
- Patrick Loisel / Vocals, Guitars
- Antoine Baril / Drums, 3rd & 5th Guitar Solo on Mater Dolorosa

About this release

Format: CD
Label: The Artisan Era
Release date: March 30th, 2018

Thanks to adg211288 for the addition

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AUGURY ILLUSIVE GOLDEN AGE reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
The tech death metal march has been incessant since the floodgates opened with such bands as Gorguts reaching such milestones as 1998’s now classic “Obscura” which paved the way for bands to genetically splice the DNA of death metal and modify it with disparate strains of progressive rock ranging from the vast fields of jazz-fusion to the unearthly vaults of avant-prog. While Tampa may have had its heyday as the spawning ground for the morbid fecundity of old school death metal, the frigid French speaking lands of Quebec have proven to have an equal pull for a new strain of the more abstract realms of technically infused death metal not only beginning with Cryptospy and Gorguts but branching out into the bizarre metal multiverses of Quo Vadis, Martyr, Beyond Creation and most weirdly of all Unexpect, JUST to name a few ;)

Also catching the tech death metal army that rampaged throughout the naughts came the Montreal based AUGURY who successfully awed and bedazzled an increasingly finicky metal audience whose standards had been raised significantly since the 90s. “Concealed” displayed a modern mature form of tech death infusion with elements of jazzy black and folk metal with heavy doses of acoustic spaced out ambience alongside the pacifying effect of Arianne Fleury’s feminine diva charming beauty that tamed the rampaging brutality of the beast. Come 2009, a full five years of perfecting their craft and AUGURY had attained a technical prowess rarely matched in the big boyz club of such technical wizardry. “Fragmentary Evidence” cemented the band as one of tech death’s major players and despite the loss of Fleury managed to wield their jazzified battle axe for an unprecedented second coming.

As the years slithered by with one passage around the sun after another yielding an ever increasing supply of technically gifted musical maestros battening down the hatches and conjuring up their own sonic storms of dissonant din, AUGURY was nowhere to be found and with the exit of half the band, namely bassist Dominic Lapointe and drummer Antoine Baril, it would’ve been a no brainer that AUGURY were a two strike assault team and then down for the count. In the metal universe modernity, nine years seems like a lifetime and as new bands like Ulcerate, Portal, Obscura, Gigan and Gorod gaining tech death god status, every passing year AUGURY was becoming more of a distant memory rather than a glimmering hope of resurrection. Lo and behold and nearly a decade later, not only have the two departed members rejoined this caustic cast but the long anticipated third album has finally arisen from seemingly nowhere.

Despite the nine year gap, ILLUSIVE GOLDEN AGE surprisingly picks up exactly where “Fragmentary Evidence” left off which is both its boon and bane depending on what one’s expectations were set on. The boon is that AUGURY crank out eight incredibly complex distorted and dissonant demons of death metal like they never left the scene. Each member has retained his respective maestrohood prowess with Patrick Loisel’s vocal shapeshifting skills losing none of the intensity heard all the way back in 2004. Likewise Marcotte, Lapointe and Baril haven’t lost their technical chops in the slightest with the production and mixing job completely up to snuff with the highest of AUGURY standards that set the bar so high from the getgo. The bane is that after nearly a decade these guys have lost a lot of their compositional magic making mojo as the majority of the tracks lack those distinguishing features so creatively laid out on the first two albums. Add to the fact that this album seems a little stuck in the 2010 timeline and hasn’t taken into account the modern realities that surround the bubble that it seems to have been created in. Could it be this was indeed created back then and only recently finished?

All that being said, ILLUSIVE GOLDEN AGE still cranks out some mighty fine tech death although at this point in the game feels a little stagnant. Woefully missing are those beautiful non-metal passages that ceded into the blistering brutal chops that allowed the band to craft an inkling of a melody that the musicians could tightrope walk upon throughout a track’s running time. After nine long years it would seem like these guys could’ve upped their game and continued their role as the compass of creativity in a sub-genera that can easily grow stale when the musicians get too much into their heads and sever the sonic thread that binds them to their audience. While it’s hard to give such a decently performed album a bad rating, at the same time the lack of the aforementioned elements only make me want to revisit the first two albums that have that extra magic layer of attraction as intangible as it may seem. While not a complete waste of time ILLUSIVE GOLDEN AGE seems to have missed its target and remains, well… ILLUSIVE.
adg211288
It's been a long road for the Canadian technical death metal act Augury to reach their third album, Illusive Golden Age (2018). Band members have come, gone and come back again and nine years have passed them by since the release of Fragmentary Evidence (2009), which itself took five years since their debut album Concealed (2004). The band was formed in 2002 and has never been outright inactive, but three albums in sixteen years isn't the most consistent showing. Augury is forgiven for this of course due to how bloody good those first two albums were. Augury is, as far as this humble reviewer is concerned, the best death metal act to have ever existed. Concealed is the main reason for that belief, but Fragmentary Evidence also goes a long way to strengthen it. Still, making their fans wait almost a whole decade for this follow-up can't have kept them in everyone's good graces. It's been so long that now that the album actually has dropped many may have even forgotten that these guys were in fact still around and who can blame them? But the third Augury album is here now and it's time to find out if it was worth the wait.

Hell. Fucking. Yes. Yes it was.

Illusive Golden Age has the sound of an album that is both familiar if you've heard Augury's earlier work but also with a bit of a different spin on it. The more atmospheric sections of music that they like to use have seen a reduction here compared to Fragmentary Evidence, as have the clean singing vocals from frontman Patrick Loisel, who main sticks to mixing his deep growling and higher pitched screams. His clean voice is still used but don't expect a track like the previous album's Sovereigns Unknown to show up during Illusive Golden Age. After nine years away Augury seem to have made a statement that they're all about the death metal. I'm not sure that anyone ever doubted that about them as they've always had a heavy sound and Loisel's deeper growls have always been brutal as hell, but that's the best description of how this album feels compared to their previous one that I can come up with.

That's not to say that their sound has become lesser by reducing these elements of variation. After all they are still there being used to effect when needed and the level of technical skill on display seems to be higher than ever, if that was even possible, including the audible fretless bass work from Dominic 'Forest' Lapointe. This is so noticeable it's like the bass is being used as the lead instrument. Not to sell what may be some of the best and most intricate technical death metal guitar work ever recorded short here, but fretless bass guitar works so damn well in this genre that it's near impossible not to focus on it as the band's defining feature. Augury and by extension Lapointe's ventures with similar band Beyond Creation have always done this well and it really does feel like he gets to share the centre stage with the two guitarists, Loisel and Mathieu Marcotte. That's very rare for a bass player and for me it's what really makes Augury more than simply technical, but also progressive.

Due to how technical and progressive their music is calling this album straight-forward seems like the start of a bad joke, but the simple fact that matter is that Illusive Golden Age is undeniably a bit less unusual in terms of its song-writing direction, especially if you're comparing it to the often weird Concealed (which for me remains their best album) or the more atmospheric Fragmentary Evidence. I think maybe stripped back would be a more appropriate way to describe it in relation to their previous, but Illusive Golden Age can only be called generic at your own peril. Augury's ability to write coherent and mostly unelongated songs while still being so technical with their riffs should quickly squash any such thoughts you might be having about this release. They did not make their comeback as just another generic tech death act by any means. They've made their comeback with an album that still sounds distinctly like an Augury album that has its own identity from their previous two. I don't know about you readers, but I'll take it.

I haven't mentioned any specific songs from Illusive Golden Age yet and that's because of the eight it's difficult to single out any particular one and then convincingly justify why that one is better. It can't be done. At a total running time of 44:20 Illusive Golden Age is pretty easy to take in during a single listen and let it all in as a singular experience. I will say that Augury made a good choice in Mater Dolorosa as the first song released to promote the album as it is a great one for getting a feel of exactly what to expect from the album. I didn't personally have any doubts that Augury would deliver when they eventually managed to get a third album out, but this song certainly sealed the deal on a CD pre-order from me. Of course there was little doubt that I'd have bought it anyway, but that song was enough to know that I need this in my hands as soon as possible. This is the death metal album to beat in 2018. I have little faith that anyone will come close to what Augury achieved here though. The long wait is forgiven...though try not to leave it another nine years next time lads.

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