Hey there tech fiends, it's that time of the week again. Before we dive into today's focus, here's the usual reminder that if you're looking for more sick music, all prior editions of this series can be perused here.
I'm very excited to be doing an early stream today for Augury – Illusive Golden Age, as the band has occupied a special place in my heart ever since their debut album Concealed dropped in 2004. At that time, I was just getting into current year new death metal releases, and Galy Records out of Canada was on an impressive hot streak which led me to check out and purchase the labels new release, Augury – Concealed. Even then it was evident that the band had a highly developed and unique form of progressive-minded technical death metal on their hands. When their 2009 follow up called Fragmentary Evidence dropped, I basically lost my shit. That album was, and still is, an incredible release, and saw the group somehow taking a further step forward soundwise and compositionally. In the years after it's release, the group took all the time they needed for a follow-up, only hinting last December that it would finally be out this year. So here we are, with their third album, Illusive Golden Age finally about to drop this Friday, March 30th through The Artisan Era. You can check out a full early stream of the record below.
After such a long wait, I think the question most Augury fans are wondering is if the group still has the same passion, rollercoaster-like intensity, and sheer brilliance they had before. The two early singles made it abundantly clear that the long nine-year wait was worth it. Illusive Golden Age sounds like Fragmentary Evidence on steroids to these ears, it's ferocity and brutality ever-present, yet still retaining a prominent mix of their sublime and often beautiful progressive influences called upon in larger or smaller doses depending on the song at hand. The biggest leap forward from Fragmentary Evidence to Illusive Golden Age lies in the songwriting department. Whereas Fragmentary Evidence often centered around strong core riffs and musical motifs paired with Dominic's audible bass lines as an anchor that the songs would circle back to multiple times, Illusive Golden Age charts a different course far less reliant on repetition. The result of doing so makes for the kind of dense maze-like experience of an album that quite literally takes dozens of listens through to fully unpack. Each and every song here is a goddamn riff factory, along with being a tech-death lead guitarists wet dream, and all-around tour de force from every Augury member beginning with the opening mellow notes of "Illusive Golden Age" all the way through to the end of spirited and often full-throttle intense album closer "Anchorite".
While it would seem a lot of people only knew of bassist Dominic "Forest" Lapointe from his tenure in Beyond Creation, his playing in Augury has always been a strong selling point for me. Dominic delivers some of the most unique and vibrant bass playing in all of death metal on Illusive Golden Age, and it's a treat to hear his prominent and eloquent presence on the album. On the guitar front, Patrick and Mathieu have always been an incredibly versatile guitar duo, and Illusive Golden Age should, and will, be held up as an important example of what truly exceptional progressive death metal entrenched technical death metal guitar work sounds like. In addition to guitar, Patrick's vocals are a powerful force here, switching between a mix of cavernous gutturals, piercing shrieks, and the usual influx of his “pirate” type clean sung parts. Someone else I was reading had described them that way recently and it stuck with me as a funny and solid descriptor. The only musician on Illusive Golden Age not on prior records is drummer Antoine Baril who fits the demanding role quite well. It takes someone very skilled and versatile to fit the drum foundation for Augury’s eclectic and dynamic music, and Antoine kills it admirably on each and every song.
I’m really glad to see one of my favorite groups come back, and not with a so-so weaker effort, but with what I would argue is the strongest and most complex Augury release to date. Here’s to hoping this is not the end, but a revitalization of the group that will lead to yet another outstanding release. So check out the full stream below, and if you enjoy what you’re hearing, Illusive Golden Age can be pre-ordered in bundle formats here, and through Bandcamp here. Be sure to follow the band over on the Augury Facebook page as well.