Interview by Carina Lawrence / Dark Art Conspiracy
Black metal thrash masters Aura Noir are finally unleashing their anticipated and long-awaited sixth new album titled ‘Aura Noire’ after a six-year gap and follow up to their last album ‘Out To Die’ (2012), and you can expect some of their finest and rawest material to date. I caught up Apollyon (Drums/Vocals) to discuss their origins, the new album and their upcoming tour…
Firstly can you tell us about your formation back in 1993?
Aura Noir started out as a solo project from Aggressor. The music was more avant guard-ish and doesn’t really have much in common with today’s Aura Noir.For his second demo recording, I helped him out with drums on one song and guitar on a second. After that, he ditched the whole project and we decided to continue playing together, still using the name Aura Noir but playing more thrashy music. This was in 1995 I guess, so we don’t really celebrate any 25 year anniversary until then.
How did you come up with your name?
Einar, who plays the drums in Virus and Infernö gave Aggressor the name back when he was playing more weird music.
What are your main musical influences?
Music that we grew up with.Most bands we have in common like early Slayer, Kreator, Sodom, Destruction, Dark Angel, Sadus, Autopsy, Celtic Frost, Bathory, Darkthrone. Then Aggressor is the biggest Venom/Voivod fan so he’s pretty much to blame for any resemblance when it comes to those two…whereas I was a sworn Metallica fan back in the days. Also, adore exodus bonded by blood and was very into the early bay area scene. I still love the first Testament…but only the first. And Motorhead of course…even if it is not evident in our music until the last three albums. Very influenced by Philthty’s drumming.
Your new album ‘Aura Noire’ is out April 27th which comes six years after your last release, how excited are you for the release and why was there such a long gap between albums?
It’s a relief to finally be releasing the album. We have worked on it a lot. It took some time but it doesn’t matter a whole lot to us. We live far away from each other which makes it difficult to meet very often. We also played more shows than usual in between the albums. Lastly, we had planned to have Tank-our live drummer since the last album record the drums for “Aura Noire” but when he had to quit two years ago we had to re-organize the band so I went back to playing the drums only and Aggressor went from guitar to bass.
What can we expect from the album and does it have any main lyrical themes?
You can expect a more raw sounding Aura Noir. Some have said that the sound is more back to “Deep Tracts Of Hell” which I don’t fully agree with but I understand why because the sound is more piercing and necro. It’s also more natural sounding in a way. There is only one guitar track on all the songs except the outro and the middle part of “Hell’s Lost Chambers” so during guitar solos you can only hear bass and drums in the background. This is something most bands don’t do any longer so for us it was an interesting challenge.
I also mixed the whole album myself for the first time to make sure it didn’t sound too nice. Even if we have been satisfied with our songs we have never been 100% happy with the mix/masterings on our previous albums. This time the mix is at least in the fierce way we want it and the mastering is great.
Concerning the songs they are pretty much a continuation of what we have always done. We work much on the details so even if it might sound primitive it kind of isn’t.
What was the recording and writing process like?
We wrote the album in 3 different stages. First, we rented a cheap house in Portugal where Blasphemer lives. He had some friends fill the house with backline so we could play and drink and play cards and be 20 years old again for a week. The first weekend we played two shows in Portugal that financed the rent and the flights were already paid for by the organizer of the shows. As we are not rich this is the way we have to do things.
Then a year or so later we did the same thing in Romania Bucharest where we know this great Marius dude who let us use his studio at daytime for a week and we rented some airbnb flat nearby.
Finally, me and Aggressor rented a rehearsal place in Oslo where we finished the songs.
In between these sessions, we listen to what we have made and find out what works and what doesn’t. The whole process would, of course, have been much quicker if we had lived closer and had a proper rehearsal place.
We recorded the drums at Fias Co studio run by Sverre from Audiopain. This is the guy we recorded with on our “The Merciless” album. He managed to find the drums we had recorded on back then. A friend of his still had it in his cellar. It was pretty necro but it was kind of charming to play it still. Then Blasphemer went to a studio in Portugal to record his guitar. Aggressor recorded the bass at home and then we both did the vocals at my place where we also mixed the album.
Is there a reason that the title of the album is so similar to your band name?
Yeah because it’s the correct way of spelling Aura Noir in French. We have heard since our first album that because “Aura” is female, it should be “noire” and not “noir”. We never really cared much. We always looked upon “aura” and “noir” as international words that most people understood..but yeah, it’s a twist on a self-titled album I guess…and maybe the French will finally accept us now.
How would you say the new release compares to your past releases?
Like I said is more raw sounding. The songs are always Aura Noir but yeah…some are more typical than others.We are super riff oriented. We try to make riffs that can stand alone and be cool. We try to not be too obvious, like play slow drums on fast riffs and vice versa, or just unexpected turns here and there. At the same time we want things pretty straightforward..so it’s a good mix.
There is one song that maybe stands out a bit from our earlier works. “Hell’s Lost Chambers” that I insisted on us making. We called it the ‘epic’ song while we were making it because it has a floating feel to it, riffs that continue for a long time..and an acoustic midsection that we never had before. I guess we wanted to do some early German turn on that one.
But apart from that, it’s pretty much Aura Noir. Personally, I am much more satisfied with this one than our previous. It’s more a joint effort and more thought through mostly and the sound makes it much more exciting and suits our songs better.
You are heading out on tour in May to promote ‘Aura Noire’ in Europe and a UK date in London, how much are you looking forward to this and what can attending fans expect from your shows?
Yeah, I recently injured my middle finger at work so I am currently not looking forward to it at all. A 40 kilo box containing frozen Salmon landed on it. Fishy business. Either way, hopefully, it will hurt less than it has done the past 3 weeks and you can expect an inspired band performing their old and new songs. We try to play from all our releases and not always play the same set. This is more inspiring for us and ultimately also to whoever is watching. If we always played the same shit we would look bored.
What new songs are you most excited to perform and why?
We already played 3-4 new songs for a year now but we are gonna do demoniac flow and cold bone grasp also I think. Will be interesting to see how they work out.
What else do you have planned for the rest of the year?
We have a couple of festivals in the summer. Also going to Singapore/Australia and New Zealand and then in November/December we are gonna do some more club shows in Europe. A couple of shows back in Norway planned as well. possibly a grand release party.