|Progressive Death Metal
Galy Records, Sonic Unyon Records (2011)
September 14th, 2004 / March 8th, 2011
Release length: 40:02
While many songs have a science fiction title, or something that may sound similar to it, there isn’t that much of an atmosphere to this recording at times, which is actually a huge let down given the titles and artwork. While this doesn’t necessarily detract from the overall enjoyment of the album, it does take away a rather unique element of the band’s sound. Take “Beauts” for example. This song sets the album up perfectly. The music starts off with that science fiction atmosphere, which stays with it throughout thanks to the somewhat mechanical sounding altered vocals (it’s very light but you can pick up on it) against really technical, fast, heavy and just pounding guitars and drums coupled with operatic female vocals that appear throughout to give it a twisted opera feel, offering up enough musical changes that slow it down and speed it up to keep the Progressive element alive and well. But, the problem here is that, once the song slows down, it never really seems to pick back up and reach that level of energy and intensity that started the album off with. Furthermore, it’s also at that point that the song just seems to go nowhere. It sounds good, but never really seems to do anything but build up tension, which is never acknowledged as the song just seems to build and build until it simply fades out and we’re left with an annoying science fiction-sounding high pitched sound effect to close the song, leaving it feel open, leaving the listener expecting a big conclusion that never comes. Sadly, that little bit at the start of the song is probably the only time that the listener will want to go absolutely nuts, as the rest is well executed technical Progressive Death, but nowhere near as energetic or intense as that small section.
But, while there’s not a strong science fiction vibe to many of these songs, or any blood pounding moments like the start of “Beatus”, it’s impossible to say that this recording is bad or not energetic in any form. One listen to Concealed and you immediately notice the energy from each track, in the vocalist and with each instrument. There’s plenty of technicality that doesn’t go too over the top but is played with such great intensity and precision that you can honestly tell that the band is taking great pride in this release. “Cosmic Migration” is the best representation of this, with every aspect of the song being well executed and easily feels like the band loved playing the song. Many of the tracks are like this, but the only part that seems off is the random female operatic vocals that kick in, and honestly seem to throw everything off slightly as they simply do not fit the music in any form. For “Beatus”, it was due to the amount of intensity and chaos the track had, having them create an aura of pure mental insanity, but in “Cosmic Migration”, they just feel tacked on. The approach used on “In Russian Dolls Universes”, they are used in a manner that honestly sounds like something you would hear in an old black and white science fiction show or movie, kind of like Star Trek or Lost in Space, and it works perfectly, even when it’s just clean female singing. Of course, the clean male vocals do wind up fitting the atmospheric sound of “…Ever Know Peace Again”, and they work, but those may have been better with the female operatic vocals. it winds up being a tough call. There’s no denying the female vocals are amazing, they just don’t feel like they work all the time on this recording, and that’s not the only place they crop up and feel a little awkward.
There really isn’t a single bad track on it. While the opening song is intense at the start and a let down at the end, the rest of the album has your traditional Progressive Death Metal tracks that go somewhere, even if they don’t have that blood pounding ability. But one of the main concerns to the recording is how well the Progressive aspecft is utilized, if it enhances the music or holds it back. Well, none of the shifts in music ever really seem forced. Sure, once in a while you’ll hear a huge leap from one tempo to another, and it may sound a little awkward, but it’s not that bad, and very rarely happens. Much of Concealed still remains consistent, and takes on more of an early Technical Brutal Death Metal feel then anything until those sudden jerks are thrown in. Honestly, if those sudden tempo shfits were left out, this would have been a fantastic album. Everything else about it is spot on, and the Progressive Metal elements do work in it’s favor, but at the same time you can hear a whole other album under all of that which is equally as enjoyable, which is proven by the song “Becoming God” which feels more like a straight forward Technical Death Metal track then anything, retaining some Progressive Metal ideas, but basically leaving out the entire concept of sudden tempo changes, and it sounds amazing.
The only time the release doesn’t really deliver is during “The Lair of Purity”, which is a very slow acoustic track with clean singing and female vocals dwarfing the soft, low male vocals. The atmosphere the band manages to put togethere here is great, and it honestly comes off more as a Folk song then a Progressive or Death Metal track while this is going on. Of course when it picks up, it fits into the mold, but it just never really feels like it’s going anywhere, and still feels more like a Folk Metal track then anything. While not bad, it’s out of place, and really just interrupts the flow and established sound of the album. “From Eden Estranged” starts in a similar manner, but it actually suits the music that the band established on this release. The song has this feeling of a natural atmosphere, but not in a Folk manner, holding a slight science fiction-like trait to it. However, the fault here is that the song doesn’t really establish much except a condensed instrumental version of “The Lair of Purity” using the same foundation composition, just different music. The song starts acoustic, goes into a Death Metal section for no reason, then closes on acoustic, just like the previous track. A simple formula, but there’s really no need to follow a song like that with another song set up exactly the same way. Perhaps if one appeared earlier on in the recording, or one were just left out in general, it would have worked out better and not just feel like a rehashed track to fill time.
Roughly seven years after it’s release, Sonic Unyon Records picked up Concealed for a reissue in 2011. It appears there isn’t much changed for the reissue, but it does include two bonus tracks, which are actually the two songs that make up the band’s 2006 promotional demo. That right there is enough to get fans of Augury to rush out and buy this edition if they don’t already own the original demo, or they don’t care enough to spend that much for two tracks. But, honestly, if you hate MP3s, it’s well worth picking this edition up specifically for these two tracks.
“Skyless” is a fantastic song that shows a little more progression from the band since Concealed by blending in intense Technical Death Metal similar to the material on the initial release, but manages to retain a more unique science fiction feel to them that was missing through almost all of Concealed. Aside that atmosphere, which is established perfectly through the slower guitars of this track, the vocals are a little deeper and richer, and the clean singing vocals are blended in a lot better with the song and don’t stand out so awkwardly. The bass also seems to have a little more of an important role here, sticking close to what the rhythm guitar plays, but often going in a slightly different direction to add a whole new element to the recording all together. “Faith Puppeteers” is about the same, though some of the science fiction atmosphere that was present on “Skyless” isn’t present, and the song comes off more as a straight forward Technical Death Metal song, much like “Becoming God” on Concealed. Either way, both of these songs show great advancement and progression from the band, and really make for nice additions to your collection.
Concealed by Augury does have it’s pitfalls, but it’s bound to happen since it’s a debut album, despite how well composed and executed the material is. If you haven’t had the chance to check this release out, and are a fan of Death Metal in any form, this is definitely worth checking out. While the first track “Beatus” definitely gives a false idea of what to expect, the rest of the material here is far more solid and enjoyable, and while it may not get your blood pumping as hard, it’s far more enjoyable in the long run since everything seems to lead somewhere in the end. Of course, given the underground nature of Galy Records, not many probably have the original pressing of this album, so now is the perfect time to pick up this debut Augury release. And, if you care enough to hear the bonus tracks, it’s well worth picking up, even if you own the original pressing, as those two tracks really show a dramatic shift in the band’s sound for the better.
01. Beatus – 4:04
02. …Ever Know Peace Again – 3:34
03. Cosmic Migration – 5:56
04. Nocebo – 5:21
05. Alien Shores – 4:13
06. In Russian Dolls Universe – 4:40
07. Becoming God – 4:00
08. The Lair of Purity – 7:27
09. From Eden Estranged… – 4:11
10. …As Sea Devours Land – 3:49
|Initial Pressing Score: 8.5/10
2011 Reissue Score: 9/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Sonic Unyon Records.