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Review for 'Lunar Aurora - Hoagascht'
Every so often, an album appears with so much creativity within it that it just makes everything else seem to be almost mundane by comparison, and this is in itself a monumental achievement since, in this day and age, finding a creative Black Metal album that doesn't come across as pretentious or self-important is an uncommon ocurrence. Thankfully, there are bands like Lunar Aurora that like to prove us wrong.
Lunar Aurora are one of Germany's elite Black Metal bands, having produced nothing other than top quality Black Metal albums since their creation in 1994, gradually evolving their sound on every new release, with each one of their albums being in a world of its own, atmosphere-heavy and brimming with some of the finest songwriting and musicianship ever witnessed.
This came to an abrupt end in 2006 when Lunar Aurora was put on hiatus, leaving us with their masterpiece Andacht, which was released in January 2007. Much to the joy of Black Metal fans the world over, Lunar Aurora returned to activity in the fall of 2011 and began working on their new album, Hoagascht. The new album was eventually released on the 2nd of March, 2012, and has maintained our Best 2012 Black Metal Album award ever since.
In typical Lunar Aurora fashion, they have once again evolved their style on this new album, however on this occasion their style seems to have shifted a couple of degrees further into the atmospheric depths than usual, no doubt the result of their creative build up during their period of inactivity. This does not imply under any circumstances that Hoagascht outperforms or is an improvement on Andacht, as the latter is probably impossible to improve upon, but rather it is an alternative route that Lunar Aurora have decided to take, merely borrowing some minor elements from Andacht. All instruments on Hoagascht were performed by Aran, while vocal duties were performed by both Aran and Whyrhd, the band's two founding members.
I will refrain from going into too much detail about the musical performance itself, as any Lunar Aurora fan would rather find out every last detail first-hand by themselves, but let's just say that everything great about Lunar Aurora is still there, and the whole album feels like an accurate aural representation of wandering through the darkest and most ancient forest imaginable, although not necessarily a forest of an evil nature. In fact, there is hardly any evil or aggression at all to be found on Hoagascht, unless you are foolish enough to associate any extreme vocals with murderous intentions, violence, and the like. The only thing that is unnerving about the music is the feeling that the trees and rocks themselves of the aforementioned forest are slowly coming alive and creeping around in order to investigate the listener's presence.
If you are still not convinced, but remain curious as to what this album sounds like, just take one look at the cover art. Let your imagination run wild for a moment, and the moon, the owl, the confier tree and the night sky sum it all up pretty efficiently. Few times before has simplistic cover art provided such an accurate visual representation of the music contained within.
What other albums sound similar to this?
Essentially, Lunar Aurora's Hoagascht is beyond any kind of comparison, with the minor exception of their previous albums Andacht and Elixir Of Sorrow, which bear some ever so slight similarities as far as the music is concerned, although in all honesty Hoagascht provides a completely different atmosphere and is a totally different beast compared to anything Lunar Aurora have done before.
You could always give Romanian Pagan / Ambient Black Metal band Marțolea a shot, with their 2010 album Noaptea Dihăniilor, which also successfully incorporates some dark forest ambience in their music in a similar manner, but for now this is the only noteworthy album that I can think of that shares any similarities with Hoagascht.
In a nutshell...
Each one of Lunar Aurora's albums is an individual work of art with it's own distinct sound and atmosphere, and Hoagascht is no exception, being just one of those rare albums that take on the appearance of nature itself, a unique jewel that, upon discovery, one just can't help but wonder if Black Metal will ever see the likes of anything remotely similar to it again. Oh wait, this is Lunar Aurora we are talking about after all, so there is a chance they will constantly surprise everyone further still over the next decade.
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