In avoidance of unbecoming, harried wriggling upon meeting with the faceless it is natural to permit oneself absolution when struck with the instinct of avoidance. With swaying eyes and crooked neck there is some art to seeing something beautiful within the mundane but, too often the disingenuous scrape along every edge and pluck every thread hoping for a connection that’ll permit their work order to continue flowing. From my own experience a bung in the movement of art down the daily pipeline is not actually the sign of something exceptional or terrible but a non-extreme being (a fibrous clod) that’d clog the sewers meant to drain away typical refuse. These uncaring, unknowing structures that pulse out written collages of others ideas are frustrating enough for the curious listener who’d attempt to use the internet to choose their next moves wisely. This is a main driver for why I’d ever write about heavy music, that it always seems the majority of unpaid hobbyists end up going through senseless motions for artists that are themselves painfully motionless and divested. Pretentious as all of that may sound, it comes from rabid fandom and perhaps that is the only sort of person who’d appropriately meditate upon the finer sub-surface points of underground black metal. Everyone else is just a noisemaker, a dumpster technician cut-and-pasting their way forward. Am I the expert to guide you towards Israeli black metal cult Dim Aura with a deft hand? Not if you’re seeking scene-specific commentary or myriad context but, the appeal of their second full-length is equal of that of their incredibly obvious influences. You’ll understand what ‘The Triumphant Age of Death’ is immediately upon hearing it and that is most impressive point of meditation upon it.
I’d probably spent a total of four hours with Dim Aura‘s discography when I started to feel some internal pressure to find their narrative, or any point of interest at all within their decade long history; All I’d gathered was essentially that they were blasphemic second wave styled black metal from Tel Aviv with a very clear influence from post-millennium Scandinavian (and some modern German) black metal. There was no real puzzle to pick through, no particularly interesting side-projects, just a very consistent and cleanly produced round of mid-to-fast paced black metal that sways between pre-‘Panzer Division Marduk’ Marduk sensibilities, plenty of modern semi-melodic Finnish darkness, and some classic Norwegian atmospherics. The goal seems to be an appreciation for the purity of the black metal genre in avoidance of its many trends and in this sense they’ve limited their reach into any extraneous directionality. There is no occult unpredictability, no dissonant ruddiness, no overt atmospheric/post-whatever refrains, and at some point that steadfast cleanliness could read as average or mediocre work depending on your perspective. They’ve aimed to make a pure form of black metal as that is what they’d concern themselves with as fans and artists alike. I respect and appreciate this on a personal level because they’ve chosen to work within a very difficult set of constraints that is absolutely crowded.
All satisfaction and darkness comes from what I’ve long considered the ‘Nemesis Divina’ ratio that fidelity conscious (or at least ‘current’ production standard) black metal bands reach between ripping riffs, semi-melodic arcs, and a rabbit punch of rockish affect. Guitar driven for sure, Dim Aura succeeds in form thanks to guitarist Ferum‘s (Infernal Nature) clear interest in Norse black metal guitar techniques old and new with no hint of death metal or dissonant sway evident throughout. What this most reminds me of is ‘noveau orthodox’ groups like earlier Dødsfall or newcomers Aihos who both focus upon a similar olden guitar-forward stylistic ratio, albeit with different choices in terms of fidelity. Where Dim Aura differ is probably a fair bit more of a Norwegian touch with some 2000’s Darkthrone-isms perking up fairly often though you’ll no doubt feel the Swedish black metal presence stronger with greater familiarity. What is missing from the true second wave toolbelt is youthful belligerence and this is where I find myself unmoved by ‘The Triumphant Age of Death’ despite its inspired form and clear professionalism. They’re a bit too ‘clean’ in their presentation, taut in their compositions, and without even a speck of performance out of place. This’d be where I separate a good band from a great (see: Sargeist).
Dim Aura are above average in most every point of inspection with the exception of feeling. That isn’t to say I require some kind of emotional catapult when firing up a black metal record but to say that ‘The Triumphant Age of Death’ doesn’t offer extreme coldness or rapacious warmth but… a lukewarm ember that smokes and thrashes but never fully commits to the point of excess. There are several wondrous achievements here with the most memorable probably “Death, Total Death” for my taste and “Black Heretic Hate” for its driving riffs in its second half. If your tastes lie in the most buttoned-up legacy black metal that is expensively produced and writ by ancient professionals then surely this record is exceptional for its honing in on an accessible and ‘clean’ rendering of blasphemic black metal. For folks seeking something wild, ambitious and dangerously presented it’ll no doubt appear mediocre. I’d still suggest that Dim Aura are absolutely not mediocre but, perhaps not special enough to wholeheartedly recommend. Above average, general recommendation for black metal fans. For preview I think “Towards the Plague” and “Death, Total Death” show the true strengths of Dim Aura immediately and the title track highlights the more average events for my taste.
Deathbeds upon golden, gilded tombs. 3.0/5.0
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