Formed by Katatonia’s Niklas Sandin, October Tide‘s Robin Bergh and A Swarm of The Sun‘s Erik Nilsson, Aoria are a kind of Scandinavian supergroup of gloom. After building up a following through their respective separate projects while the band lay dormant, Aoria have finally released their debut album, “The Constant” – a modest offering at just 36 minutes long with 6 songs.
Aoria are not the kind of band who relish in their anguish. “The Constant” is above all else an elegant record, quietly intense and calm in its moroseness, every note sighing with dignified sorrow. It’s not indulgently gloomy, nor is it as hopelessly despairing as, say, Agalloch. There’s no anger or bitterness, just beautiful, melancholic songs with clean vocals and laced with complex layered harmonies, chords ascending in hopefulness.
‘Assassination’ contains the kind of hypnotic riffs that you can hum after hearing only once, while ‘You Really Gave It All, Didn’t You?’ sees singer Erik deliver an exceptional and emotional vocal performance reminiscent of Anathema’s Vincent Cavanagh. And in the same way as Anathema, Aoria’s music somehow manages to be simultaneously melancholic and uplifting, as on closing track ‘An Overwhelming Calm’ which, as it turns out, is a very appropriate name.
The formula of shoegaze delicately entwined with black metal elements is nothing new of course (hello Alcest), but Aoria’s musicianship is so refined, their skill at crafting melodies so honed from their years in their respective bands that the result is a fresh-sounding, classy and intelligent album. Fans of the aforementioned bands will love this.