Album of the Month

Accomplished and captivating melodic Death/Doom is the hallmark of Vanha's sophomore full-length.
(Read more)

Featured debut

Random band

137 (pronounced One Thirty-Seven) has a lot of different things influencing their sludge style. Amongst the most important are the stonerish Bl...
(read more)

Aura Hiemis : Silentium Manium

Somewhat bewildering in structure, Aura Hiemis' latest opus includes some decent Death/Doom but no coherent direction.

Fancy fusing some lovely Latin with erratic English! Just when I thought I'd found a Doom release from abroad that appeased my inner "grammar Nazi", I saw the song entitled 'Between Silence Seas' and sighed. I feel that Google Translate has a lot to answer for here.

I digress; let's dissect Aura Hiemis' album 'Silentium Manium', shall we? This band hails (no Metal band simply "comes from" a place nowadays) from Chile and 'Silentium Manium' is their fourth full-length release. I have to confess that, at the time of reviewing this album, I have not listened to their previous works. I'm not sure that there's enough on 'Silentium Manium' to make me want to delve, to be frank, but you never just know.

Aura Hiemis' style of Death/Doom is a little hard to pinpoint because they alternate rather frequently...and not always with Metal. Confused? Me too. The introduction to this album made me think that this would be more of a Novembers Doom type release because of the clean guitars and soft atmosphere but such thoughts were somewhat quashed by the arrival of the second track, which had some very powerful diSEMBOWELMENT-esque vibes (at least the slower parts), albeit with lesser vocals. Now, I'm really fighting the urge to give you a song-by-song breakdown of this album because it goes a little weird after that. What I mean is that the Doom elements of the album seem to disappear. Indeed, the Metal elements of the album mostly disappear too. I can only assume that vocalist V had a touch of laryngitis at this stage because there are no vocals for most of the middle of this release either.

Toward the end of the album, heavier Death/Doom returns and I find that quite enjoyable. If Aura Hiemis stuck to that side more throughout this composition then I'd be more appeased because musically, I find Aura Hiemis to be a fairly good band if I wear my Doomy hat of optimism. I think that the atmosphere generated on the Death/Doom tracks is powerful and that they do try to make their own music rather than simply copying other bands. However, they drift into different styles too much for my liking, and I also tend to find that the vocals aren't quite as good as they need to be for a more atmospheric Death/Doom release. I don't have enough experience in mastering to tell you for certain whether it's the mix or whether it's the vocalist himself but I often find myself getting distracted by guitarwork so I would lean toward it being the mix that is the problem. That problem pales in comparison to the bizarre removal of Death/Doom from the release, however. For large portions of this album, all you'll hear are guitars and there's not really a lot you can make of that. Subsequently, I'm left feeling a touch nonplussed after listening to this album several times, which isn't good.

As far as pet peeves go, I've got quite a few on this album. For example, the inlay is rather confusing. The CD I am listening to has eleven tracks on it but the inlay says that there's ten. Some sites don't recognise that there is an eleventh track, and some say it's called 'Visceral Laments II'. I don't know why that differential has confused the people that have made the album but it seemingly has, which is annoying. To pour fuel on the fire, there's roughly 60 seconds of dead air at the end of the tenth track, as if the album had ended - then the eleventh track kicks in. There's no ambience during that period; it's as if the band forgot to stop recording. That in itself made me question whether the eleventh track was even added on purpose. Your guess is as good as mine.

Furthermore, I don't understand the juxtaposition in the inlay. There's a pentagram, which is generally associated with being anti-Christian or pro-Satanism. Indeed, with "Demens" being the most common word on the inlay, you could easily put two and two together to get four. However, all of the lyrics on this release (which aren't listed in the inlay) are based upon the obscure poetry of Leonor Dinamarca in "Maeror Demens", which I'm led to believe loosely translates from Latin as "demented grief" so I don't see any real connection with what I tend to associate with anti-Christian or pro-Satanism lyrics.

Lastly, there's an unnecessary amount of testosterone with the closing message of the inlay, which states "Fuck off the rest! Let them burn!". Ironically, this statement alone is about as unpoetic as it gets so yes, I am baffled. I write poetry but I've never come across any radicals either for or against it so that level of aggression seems unnecessary. Still, at least Aura Hiemis have picked up a trick or two from their fellow South American legends Sarcofago. The Brazilians were somewhat infamous for their "If you are a false, don't entry" line and it's nice to see that Aura Hiemis have adopted a similar level of bewildering butchery of the English language with their inlay closing.

Would I recommend this release? Not really, predominantly because I don't know who I'd be recommending it to nor why I would be recommending it. I'd go as far as to say I would feel cheated if I had bought this release because there are only a handful of Death/Doom tracks on it; the rest sound as if they're just fooling around. I don't think I could argue with the idea of this being a different release to most Death/Doom albums out there but I would argue that's largely because there's a significant absence of Death/Doom on it. Again, musically it's pretty good (at least in terms of ideas and guitarwork) but there doesn't seem to be any direction on the release. At no stage of listening to this album did I feel that I understood whether I was at the start, halfway through it, or it had ended because there wasn't a structure. The mix doesn't sit too well with me and there aren't enough strong Doom elements on 'Silentium Manium' for me to suggest that any Death/Doom fans give this a whirl, although I must confess to being curious as to what other people make of it because I find it hard to imagine there would be many fans of it.

Click HERE to discuss this review on the doom-metal forum.

Reviewer's rating: 5.5/10


Tracklist :
1. Maeror Demens I
2. Cadave Fessum
3. Maeror Demens II
4. Sub Luce Maligna
5. Maeror Demens III
6. Between Silence Seas
7. Frozen Memories
8. Maeror Demens IV
9. Danse Macabre
10. Maeror Demens V
11. Untitled

Duration : Approx. 52 minutes

Visit the Aura Hiemis bandpage.

Reviewed on 2018-02-20 by Ian Morrissey
Aesthetic Death
Advertise your band, label or distro on doom-metal.com