Son Of Aurelius

Under a Western Sun

Written by: MBC on 16/08/2014 17:53:42

Four years ago, the newly started California-based Son Of Aurelius released their debut album “The Farthest Reaches”, which was a remarkable display of technical and brutal, yet melodic death metal with a bit of prog in between. After having released the album and been a part of several tours, the time eventually came for the band to record its sophomore album. However, struggles to come to agreements meant that the band parted ways from their record label. Fortunately, the band made the decision to carry on and chose to record the album anyways, which has now been released completely independently.

A lot can happen in four years and indeed a lot has happened to the band’s sound. This new album entitled “Under a Western Sun” is a completely different beast than “The Farthest Reaches”, but it is a beast nonetheless. The relentless death metal onslaught has been toned down a great deal and focus has been shifted to the prog aspect of the band’s song writing, which has always been present, but never to the extent that is presented on this album. Fans of “The Farthest Reaches” might be discouraged initially, but need not reject the album completely. Son Of Aurelius still play technical metal that at times is brutal, at times is melodic, and they have not totally abandoned their death metal roots, although the new direction definitely takes a while to get used to.

Besides the change in musical direction, another essential new factor on this record is the presence of vocalist Riley McShane who replaced original vocalist Joshua Miller not long after the release of “The Farthest Reaches”. Compared to Miller’s approach, which resembled that of Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder with constant switching between high screams and low growls, McShane’s performance is much more varied. He has carried on Miller’s style with death metal growls and screams, but for the most part he sings clean vocals on the album. He is a skilled vocalist and proves that he masters several different styles whether it be singing softly, belting out big and dramatic vocal lines, fry screaming or demonic, guttural growling. His approach is similar to that of Tommy Rogers of Between The Buried And Me, a band that overall seems like it serves as a big inspiration for Son Of Aurelius. Along with the change in vocal duties, the lyrical themes have changed completely as well. On “The Farthest Reaches”, the songs were about Greek and Roman myths and legends which have been cast aside for more straightforward and somewhat generic lyrical depictions of human emotions told from a subjective perspective. Once again, this is a drastic change, which might alienate fans of the first record.

Album opener, the aptly titled “Return To Arms”, is an epic instrumental track that pretty much sets the tone for the album. Technically supreme, heavy and melodic, it is a precursor of what is to come. Second track “Chorus Of the Earth” is 7:11 minutes of melodic prog metal mastery featuring soaring, theatrical vocals, switches between soft and heavy riffs and big solos. Next track “The Weary Wheel” continues in the same direction and is another track of about seven minutes with some highlights being the ridiculously fast machine gun double bass drums from Spencer Edwards and more of McShane’s impressive, dramatic vocals. The opening to next track “Coloring The Soul” sounds like classic Son Of Aurelius with melodic death metal riffs, blasting drums and brutal vocals. Tempo is high during the song and it features a very impressive vocal performance from McShane, who truly shows his range with guttural growls and high pitched clean vocals.

Other album highlights include the epic and heavy “A Great Liberation” and the straight up death metal brutality of “The Prison Walls”. Unfortunately, the album does run a bit out of steam halfway through. It seems obvious that Son Of Aurelius would have a lot of material written four years after the release of their last record. But fifteen songs, including three instrumentals, is just too much here, and the band could have tightened the screws a bit more. Some of the softer songs do get a little boring to listen to, and it seems like the band has still not quite found its identity yet.

The change in musical and lyrical direction since the previous album does take a while to get used to, but luckily the band has held on to a few of its former characteristics. “Under A Western Sun” is still definitely an album for fans of technical metal to delve into and listen through several times, each time discovering more great details. Hopefully, it will not be another four years before a new release from Son Of Aurelius.

Download: Chorus of the Earth, The Weary Wheel, Coloring the Soul, A Great Liberation, Clouded Panes, The Prison Walls, Long Ago
For the fans of: Between the Buried and Me, The Contortionist, The Faceless, The Black Dahlia Murder, Protest the Hero, All That Remains
Listen: Facebook

Release date 03.06.2014

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