Son of Aurelius

The Farthest Reaches

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Even some of the most enthusiastic moshers will acknowledge that death metal is an acquired taste, much like free jazz, techno, or metalcore. But say what you will about death metal, one cannot honestly claim that it doesn't have a lot of musicians who really know how to play their instruments. Chops are plentiful in death metal, especially when it comes to bands as technical as Son of Aurelius. These Californians favor death metal at its most technical, and angularity is the rule on their vicious, clobbering debut album, The Farthest Reaches. This type of material isn't as difficult to play as, say, John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" -- a tune whose demanding chord changes have been known to scare the living hell out of many first-year jazz students -- but even so, this is music that Son of Aurelius wouldn't be able to pull off if they didn't have a strong command of their instruments. Most of the time, The Farthest Reaches goes out of its way to be not only as technical as possible, but also as abrasive as possible. However, the fact that this 2009 recording/2010 release is highly technical doesn't mean that it is melodic or terribly nuanced; Son of Aurelius, who sound a lot like the German band Obscura, thrive on bombast for the sake of bombast. Death metal is the main ingredient, although there is some black metal influence as well -- mainly in terms of the vocals, which include death metal's deep Cookie Monster growl as well as black metal's shrieking rasp. There are no clean vocals on this 36-minute CD -- only extreme vocals -- and throughout the album, the growl and the rasp are equally prominent. Although not groundbreaking, this generally decent effort is worth hearing if one is in the mood for harsh, skull-crushing exhilaration.

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