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Review for 'Lunar Aurora - Andacht'
While some Black Metal bands follow in the footsteps of the genre's pioneers, others like Lunar Aurora prefer to create their own path. A common phrase for describing the situation would be imitate or innovate, and although Lunar Aurora began as a more or less traditional Black Metal band, they have been constantly innovating with each subsequent release, proving on each occasion that they are the masters of subtle evolution, and by the time they released Andacht in January 2007, the band was a completely different beast from the Lunar Aurora of a decade earlier.
Lunar Aurora was founded by Whyrhd and Aran in December 1994 in the Bavarian town of Rosenheim, Germany. Andacht is their eighth full length album, and their last release before they had to put the band on hiatus in 2006. Much to the joy of fans of their unique brand of Atmospheric Black Metal world over, Lunar Aurora returned to activity in 2011, and in 2012 they released their probably their most innovative album to date, Hoagascht. Unfortunately, this is probably also the last Lunar Aurora album we will ever see, because the band recently announced that they would be putting the project to rest indefinitely. All the more reason to treasure each one of their works.
Although Hoagascht excels in it's pure creativity and intriguing atmosphere, it is actually Andacht that is Lunar Aurora's true masterpiece, and during the course of the whole album one can't help but feel that this is the exact sound that the band had been aiming to achieve since their creation, gradually perfecting their music on each album until they simply couldn't perfect it any longer. I have my suspicions that this level of perfection is, if not the primary reason, at least one of the reasons for both their hiatus from 2006 to 2011 and the shift in style present on their Hoagascht album after returning to activity. Well, it's plausible anyway.
Andacht consists of six tracks in total, with each one being approximately nine minutes in length, and while a nine minute track in most other genres of metal would be considered as a mammoth song, it is somewhat normal for a Black Metal band such as Lunar Aurora and, furthermore, given the sheer quality of the music, nine minutes are over all too soon on Andacht.
Each song begins with a great introductory ambient piece that prevents the listener from returning to reality for the album's entire duration, but this isn't the only trick that Andacht has up it's sleeve. Most notably the thick atmosphere that is created by the unique guitar tone combined with some of the most well arranged keyboards in the history of Black Metal, as well as a truck-load of small details and minor sound effects that really contribute to making the album both inspiring and unforgettable. The vocals are also a stellar performance, and their balance in the mix is fine-tuned to perfection. The production on Andacht is just spot on.
Epic song structures and surreal atmospheres aside, it should remain clear that the one thing that stands out on Andacht and makes it feel bigger than life and more accomplished than any other Lunar Aurora album is the crushing wall of sound created by the aforementioned guitars and their unique tone, although while it is crushing, it is not oppressive in any way. Actually, it would almost be considered a pleasant wall of sound if it weren't for the overall melancholic atmosphere that runs through the album in typical Lunar Aurora fashion. In any case, only one description is accurate enough for the guitar tone on Andacht. Yes, you guessed it, it's fucking amazing, and that can also adequately sum up the entire album.
You really can't go wrong with any Lunar Aurora album, but Andacht really is the most excellent of them all.
What other albums sound similar to this?
Given that Andacht is the culmination of 13 years of Atmospheric Black Metal evolution over the course of seven albums, the only way to understand why Andacht is so unique, and also understand why it actually sounds the way it does, would be to investigate the rest of Lunar Aurora's works in chronological order. While you won't quite find anything that sounds exactly like Andacht does amongst the rest of Lunar Aurora's extensive discography, it's safe to say that you won't be dissapointed either, with each of their albums being in a world of their own. Obviously, Andacht's closest relatives would be the three albums that directly lead up to it, being Elixir Of Sorrow from 2004, Zyklus also from 2004, and Mond from 2005. Their latest and unfortunately their last album, Hoagascht, is also highly recommended. Highly recommended indeed.
You are more or less out of luck when it comes to finding another band that has produced an album that sounds like Andacht, but don't lose hope just yet. First of all, straying into Pagan Black Metal territory, check out Frostnacht by Helrunar and The Great Silk Road by Darkestrah, although the latter's desert theme contrasts greatly with the chilly feel of Andacht. Also worth giving a try is Jahreszeiten by Nargaroth, Skelepht by Dråpsnatt, and some of the works by Geïst and Eïs. Lastly, there is Nagelfar's Virus West which shares a somewhat similar thick guitar tone although it is generally a more raw and aggressive beast than Andacht.
In a nutshell...
There is something unique about all of Lunar Aurora's albums, either something new that they have added or something old that they have improved upon, or both. Well, when such a talented band reach their eighth full length album after continuously evolving their sound, the result is nothing short of jaw-dropping, as can be expected. Additionally, not only is Andacht jaw-dropping, it's also pretty much one of a kind.
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