Why is it that with very few exceptions, it is always the most sociopathic and nihilistic bands that sound the most exhilarating and full of life? Seriously, it’s safe to say that Aura Noir rejects everything — god, country, family, self, faith, hope, love — that greater society agrees is essential to happiness, and yet they create an album like Increased Damnation, which is a total mega-thrash romp that encapsulates and compresses everything good about music. What, exactly, is everything good about music? Well, how about the 1980s Bay Area Thrash scene (Slayer, Testament, etc.), Bathory, Sodom, “Mistress Of Pain,” and of course, Fenriz? Yes! Mr. Darkthrone does contribute some vocal tracks, particularly an inspired performance on “Mirage.” Another good thing about music that I forgot to mention is the packaging it comes in, and Aura Noir don’t disappoint in that area, either, from the infinite pentacle on the cover to the scrawled battle cry “Unholy Thrash Metal” to the pictures of Aggressor where he looks like a younger, hungrier Chronos!! Perfect for a two-page foldout poster in Terrorizer magazine! But seriously, what we have is a collection/compilation of Aura Noir from the mid ’90s. Their first recorded track, their first album (Dreams Like Deserts) represented in its entirety, a clutch of tracks recorded with Fenriz; this record has the feel of a photo album, especially given the age of most of the tracks. Oh well, fact is, this material has aged extremely well — a personal favorite touch is a production job that mimics the “live studio” values of Slayer’s Live Undead. Increased Damnation is a lethal and messy record that is the perfect companion for vandalism, drinking, occult rites, sewing patches on your denim jacket, long drives to concerts, parties, headbanging, bloodletting, you get the picture.
Hammerheart, PO Box 45, Natick, MA 01760, http://www.hammerheartamerica.com