Vancouver death metal band AUROCH have a lot of good things happening on From Forgotten Worlds, their debut, which was all set for an August 28 indie release date before the band got signed up by Hellthrasher Records, who will now be releasing the disc soon. Understandable why a label would want to have their name attached to this one: it stands out from the modern-day onslaught of death metal bands by maintaining some element of rawness to it while also proving enough technical skills and songwriting chops to keep every camp of death metaller happy. But mainly, this one reminds me of bands back in the early '90s, in sound and, most importantly, feel.
“That's a tremendous compliment,” laughs vocalist/guitarist Seb Montesi. “Well, we're into all the good old shit: GENERAL SURGERY, CARCASS, INCANTATION, MYSTIFIER, IMPETIGO, TIMEGHOUL, you know? We're making a concerted effort to combine that old-school, unpredictable rawness with new-school sensibilities. We also love prog and more technical stuff...”
Another thing that makes this one harken back to a better, simpler time is that it's so short. Clocking in at barely 35 minutes, the disc is over and you actually want more; sounds simple enough, but not enough bands are doing that kind of thing these days.
“Interesting observation,” says Montesi. “We'd been wondering if people would think it was short or if it was average. To be honest, I think we covered a lot of ground in just over half an hour and there's no reason to fatten it up.”
Now that I've sufficiently buttered up Montesi, I can start dropping the balls on the aspects of the album I don't like, mainly that it's lyrically entirely based on the writings of Lovecraft. I mean, fine and good, but kind of a metal cliché, no? But, to his credit, he gets me back pretty good when I mention this.
“Definitely fair enough, but can I be a huge asshole and just say a lot of bands are doing it wrong with the Lovecrafty lyrics? On one hand you have the cookie cutter doom-metal bands essentially paraphrasing poor Howard and just retelling his stories to pentatonic riffing, and then on the other hand you've got all the black metal armchair occultists who have somehow found some vague connections to lump Lovecraftian mythos in with Satanism and draw weak parallels between the mythos and eastern occultism.”
“I'm not saying there's not parallels to be drawn,” he continues, “but a lot of these motherfuckers have just missed the point. PORTAL gets Lovecraft right. Goddamn, do they get it right. I'd like to achieve a fraction of the portrayal of the mysteries in a classy manner. We want to do Lovecraft justice. Do Lovecraft like WEAPON or INQUISITION do Satan. Do Lovecraft like old CRYPTOPSY did gore and rape. Right proper.”
So with a sound that is pretty determinedly old school death metal but with tech flourishes and grind edges, where does that leave Auroch? How do they fit in the death metal scene of today.
“A tough question to answer,” says Montesi. “As in what bands do we sound like? I don't know. But in terms of the good stuff coming out of Canada—ANTEDILUVIAN, ADVERSARIAL, DIRE OMEN, MITOCHONDRION, WEAPON—I'd say we fit right in, and are certainly inspired by our peers.”
Whatever they're doing, they're doing right. And, like I say, it's keeping them separated from the death metal onslaught of our times, which Montesi says is a difficult thing to do.
“It definitely is,” he says. “We don't try to create any niche for ourselves, nor make any attempt to stand out. We just do what we feel is organic and pure and hopefully it's cutting it (laughs)."