ISON - Aurora

29 Jun 2021 - Thorsten

Cosmic Drone | Release date: 25 Jun 2021

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“Aurora“ means light or lucidity or brightness. And one might have hardly ever heard of an album whose opener fits so perfectly to the album title as this one. It radiates brightness which flows towards the listener like the warm, embracing rays of sunlight. And that’s just the first track “Jupiter”!

ISON from Sweden was close to the brink of calling it quits a few years ago, when their then-singer left the project for good. How do you go on after such a cesura? Well, mastermind Daniel Änghede (formerly of Crippled Black Phoenix) did what is best at that moment: He sat back and analyzed the situation and came to the best possible result – no ending the project but continuing and diversifying the vocal duties until a permanent solution can be instated. And he found some awesome collaborators from Sylvaine, Cammie Gilbert (Oceans of Slumber), Gogo Melone (Aeonian Sorrow) and many more, eight unique voices! All the while Daniel was writing songs for the project and now these are spread out before our very ears on ISON’s fourth album.

These songs are Progressive, Ambient, Post-Rock, Doom, Wave, partially Krautrock and yet, they are always ISON! Whichever genre the songs touch upon, the elements of that genre are never used in a stereotypical way, they all float under the wonderfully warm sonic carpet that lies beneath them. One never feels alone on the record and much of that is due to the vocal performances from each singer. Listen to the miracle that is the title track with vocals by Daniel and Lisa Cuthbert. The two voices dance a perfect waltz, that bears no anger as none seeks to outshine the other. When they lead it towards that one moment, when the bass with one single note opens up another level of strength and progressive chords and spaces it should bring joy to everyone.

However, do not think, that this record is mere beauty – there are also moments of implemented crunch! Yet, the album is not aggressive, when the guitar produces a strong riff. When ”Meridian” hits the 4:50 mark we for a fraction of a section hear the initial power behind the swirling crescendo (seemingly influenced by some Post-Rock). There is more power in this whirlwind than one might expect, yet nevertheless, the six-string is used by Daniel mostly for melancholic pickings or to add another wide open space on which the vocals and the listener’s thoughts can wander on like amid green pastures. By the way, if this record was a color, it would be a very, very dark spacey green, which might also be another connection as green is the color of hope and that is what Aurora provides.

Some people might criticize, that there seems to be one general formula to many of these songs: Intimate opening supported by ethereal vocals followed by a muscular addition of precise bass and drums lifting the whole thing onto the next sphere orbiting around the vocals. True, one might argue that case, however, isn’t that the formula underneath most music? Plus – many paintings use blue all over, yet they all are different, because of the different shades. And that is what Aurora achieves to perfection: It paints different pictures using the same colors by varying the shades and intonations, the nuances and the details. If anybody wants to buy one record full of harmonies this year - Aurora would be an undeniable recommendation!