Probably the most obscure album title yet from the Church, and definitely one of the least likely to provide a catchy radio single, but with this defiant reclaiming of their own destiny after the mess of Gold Afternoon Fix, the Church came up with its best album to date. If not as gloriously catchy as Heyday, Priest = Aura shows the Church fully in charge of creating evocative, poetic, and gripping music with a distinctly unsettling edge. Part of the strength of Priest = Aura is its excellent sequencing, organized from start to finish. The opening song, "Aura," finds the band coming in after an atmospheric synth start, Kilbey's sly lyric equally applicable to the band's recent situation and standing as a cryptic invocation of strange experiences away from home. "Ripple," which immediately follows, was the lead single, its soothing chorus floating above a strong, shadowy undertow of music below. With that as a start, everything continues up until the album's wrenching conclusion, starting with the dramatic, unnerving music hall chant of "The Disillusionist." After a brief break with "Old Flame," "Chaos" kicks in, a nearly ten-minute invocation of the title subject. Willson-Piper and Koppes rarely have sounded so powerful, while the final song, "Film," doesn't provide much further comfort. In between these two extremes, many other great songs -- "Swan Lake," with its portrait of a hellish home, the gentle dance-groove of "Feel," "Kings" and its epic U2-done-right feel and more -- fill out this astonishing album.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett