'Hell has arrived on earth in the form of Lunar Aurora, one of Germany’s most illustrious bands and that in itself is saying an awful lot. Considering the strength of the German scene, Lunar Aurora haven’t looked out of place in it. Their strange, surreal style of black metal has kept them a place in the hearts of many, myself included, though I do tend to neglect them a bit. A cosmic force to be reckoned with, Lunar Aurora spit forth a disturbing amount of hatred and rage in their fifth outing to date, ‘Elixir of Sorrow’. This German band bring a new dimension to the foreground of the black metal scene with their other worldly full-length record with its cosmic touch and hateful wails depicting, and aptly at that, darkness, sorrow and most fittingly, the moon. Lunar Aurora have seemingly been around for ages, though they’re often neglected when discussions open up about the most pivotal German bands within the scene. Fortunately, those who do keep a regular eye on this band, whom are now on hold indefinitely, hold them in such high esteem given the experimental touch with its quirky symphonies and stylistics that involve a lot of keyboards. When I initially discovered this band, I wasn’t a huge fan of keyboards intermingled with black metal music but since then, I have changed my ways and a lot of that has to do with being introduced to Lunar Aurora at a fairly early stage in my black metal listening career.
Lunar Aurora are a band I know little about, despite the fact that I possess a number of their full-length releases. For some reason, I’ve never given them the time of day. However, having said that, I have always shown a keen interest in ‘Elixir of Sorrow’ because of its strange and unusual ambience generated by those well known keyboards. It feels like nothing I have ever heard before, so it was both new and exciting at the time that I discovered it. To find fresh black metal acts is a rarity these days, so when you do, stick by them (which I failed to do, stupidly). The ingredients that are the make up of this record are traditional, in some senses, but the modern day twist of the Burzum ambient inspired musings are welcomed, as many people claim that there are far too many clones about. Even the vocals, on occasions, remind me of Varg (see songs like ‘Heir Und Jetzt’ for example).I hate to relate every ambient piece back to Burzum, but those are the origins and this is the influenced being. ‘Elixir of Sorrow’ is primarily about creating a unique atmosphere using keyboards and an often varying style of play. Musically, Lunar Aurora are based around power. Creating several different atmospheres and conjuring various pejorative emotions through a heavy sound which tends to fixated on a constant, repetitious bass that doesn’t stray far from the opening lines throughout, fast play in all other areas.
Though there are a number of beautiful slow passages, where the keyboards come alive in their role and the guitars offer more fluctuation - and tremendous vocals vomited forth from the depths of hell. Each song has its own unique styling and has a distinctive feel to it, though the amount of filler tracks is off putting. To me, it reminds me of a dream like state. Particularly one of those recurring dreams when you find yourself running from someone/something and being unable to get away. Lunar Aurora are that creeping force, hiding behind the darkness that they themselves create, trying to entice us into it and surrender to their downright infectious style. Gaining on you with each pluck of the strings, the musicians begin to close in on a position from which they can strike with deadly force. Stalking you in the darkness the ambience that the keyboards create. There is little or nothing one can do to escape the force behind Lunar Aurora. For me, the most impressive element about this full-length is its consistency, despite the fact that there are so many useless filler tracks. Its consistently heavy. Its consistently dark and dynamic. Its even consistently pleasing to the ear. Songs like the mesmerising 'Augenblick' are a prime example of this with its catchy guitars and suffocating keyboards. The brief intermissions allow for a break from the furious action Lunar Aurora puts on for us, so they can come in handy from time-to-time, I just wish they were more few and far between, as opposed to littering the record as they tend to do.
They showcase the might and strength in depth with creative leads that crush and deadly capabilities that have a paralleled force, which is to lull the listener with smooth symphonies. Perhaps Lunar Aurora's style might not suit most - its aggressive and fast, often intent on a blunt force trauma style. It takes time to get used to the atmospheric nature when you are not particularly accustomed to this juxtaposed idea of fast play, alongside a smothering of keyboards. The space-like feel the keyboards adds to the mix a sense of cosmic lunacy which, in turn, does enhance the general capacity of the record when it attempts to enlighten us with slower, more thought out sections. The listener may be dissatisfied with the vocals as they can sometimes be blown away by the loud and heavy style, though they do there best to keep up. Production wise, Lunar Aurora have it spot on. Its not too raw and its not too clean, as well as this - the bass is audible, though it does not often vary in tempo, relying perhaps far too heavily on tremolo styling. They have hit a middle ground which delicately shows off their strengths and perhaps hides their weaknesses. ‘Elixir of Sorrow’ is certainly worth your time as it puts a new twist on black metal. ‘Augenblick’ and ‘Kerkerseele’ are two tracks to take particular note of.'