Michigan duo Empire Auriga (Boethius on vocals and 90000065B on machines) continue the American mutation of black metal with their intensely individualized take on the core materials of the genre. To wit, "Auriga Dying" is just as reminiscent of early Swans, Death in June and Non's "Total War," as metal oddballs like Burzum and Xasthur. And a sprinkle of Godflesh and early Swamp Terrorists' masochism. Face it chum, "Auriga Dying" is going to be VERY tough going for the corpsepainted doppleganger wearing an Immortal shirt. Hell, they're probably going to hate Empire Auriga. Fucking good, I say. Isn't one of the hallmarks of extreme metal supposed to be that it's not for everyone, that it purposely bucks movements? No blast beats, no headbanging, shit, nothing even resembling a rock beat, no solos, no goblin vocals. The sound of Empire Auriga is a malignant brew of post-industrial sonics and machinery, lashed to rusted radios, the occasional hint of gothic grandeur and the ground-down hopelessness of a Grief or a Khanate. Mournful guitar, martial, fascistic beats, and decaying electronics all presided over by vocals that sound like Ian Curtis's personality encoded into a Commodore 64 computer. Wave after wave of ghost-in-the-machine funeral doom and elegiac 8-bit paranoia come pulsing at you. Hotly tipped, I should hope.
- Matthew Moyer