Another month, another “nouns” band. Based on their name, it’s easy to guess what kind of music Auras plays. Jesting aside, Auras has been making a name for themselves in the progressive metalcore scene since their conception in 2013. With three EPs under their belt, fans of this particular style of music have been clamoring for a full-length from this Ontario-based quartet for quite some time now, and after signing with eOne Music, they have at last released Heliospectrum.
Trends within metal are funny, especially when it comes to the djent movement. Meshuggah essentially pioneered this style of music, but whereas they started and continue to stay within the framework of extreme metal, several bands, in particular Periphery, took this downtuned, technical and highly groovy style of music and fused it with pop, subsequently spawning an entirely new trend that is a bastardization of what it was originally intended to be (not a bad thing, just an observation). This has led to bands like Auras, who one can’t help but feel is merely a rehash of something Periphery is already doing. The opening track of Heliospectrum, “Waterstone” sounds like a typical djent riff and takes all the expected twists and turns that have become commonplace in this genre.
Still, Auras does manage to stand apart from the pack, if for no other reason because they approach their brand of djent from less of the pop side of things and more from a hardcore perspective. Vocalist Eric Almeida uses cleans sparingly throughout Heliospectrum, instead opting to bludgeon the listener into submission with his harsh screams and impassioned yells. It’s also worth noting that Auras does not feature a bassist within they ranks, so guitarists Josh Ligaya and Aaron Hallman hold down both the high and low end with their seven-stringed axes, and as a result, churn out riffs and grooves that are more head-turning and lasting than other bands of this ilk are able to. Heliospectrum certainly features its fair share of cool moments that’ll cause instinctual head-bobbing and air guitar sessions.
Despite their strengths, however, Auras isn’t doing anything groundbreaking, and after a few listens, all of the tracks on Heliospectrum begin to sound just a little too similar. Any fan of the djent or progressive metalcore scene will likely find something to like here; for everyone else, however, Heliospectrum isn’t going to suddenly change anybody’s mind. It makes sense that a band like Auras would be increasing in popularity, especially within this particular nook of metal; however, this movement is in need of a shock of revitalization, and unfortunately, Auras won’t be the band to do it…not this time around, anyway. A valiant effort, but ultimately more of the same of what we've come to expect from this style of metal.