It is always interesting to see how heavy trios can be. Azken Auzi from Toulon in Southern France can be taken as a new example for just that. Stemming from afoot the mighty Alps and simultaneously right on the blue beaches of the Côte d’Azur, the threesome started only two years ago and have now released their self-titled debut record which is somewhere in the realms of Blackened Stoner Metal. Impressive!
On their Bandcamp site they clearly cite their influences – Electric Wizard, Acid King, Weedeater, Alice In Chains, Sleep, Celtic Frost, Yob, Darkthrone, Monolord, Beherit, Mayhem – and even though these have nothing really in common, for they are a really diverse bunch, there is something on Azken Auzi that could be attributed to each of these. We have the slightly Rock-affiliated sensibility for the use of semi-acoustic guitar lines (like the opening of the final track ”Home”) which one might allude to AIC. Or the thundering bass that Weedeater and other mentioned bands shared. This crunchy use of the four-stringer can obviously be heard on many tracks on this record and therefore it is pretty easy to label this kind of music Stoner Metal. However, as the songs have a bite and sometimes seem to over-steer one might attribute them with Electric Wizard who also had that bass line that seemed to burst every time the strings were struck, so by and large, bass hugger Laurent should be one of the most highly respected newcomers on the scene.
But don’t forget on Ludo who strikes the six-strings and delivers the vocals. His riffs are often so crispy that they seem to force the air out of the lungs by giving you one of these bear-hugs which can help your spine lose some tension and at the same time apply so much pressure to your sternum that the lungs have some difficulty working for a moment. His vocals and their delivery might be one of the few points on which Azken Auzi might work a little in order to stand out from the crowd a bit more. Well, hey, this is a debut record, right? There must be some room for improvement and if that’s the only tiny thing then that says a lot! It is also pretty amazing how he sometimes adds another little layer of guitar goodness by injecting a small, but highly effective solo into the dense wall of sound, just listen to the second part of the opener ”Disgrace” and you will surely know what I am talking about. Or the real acoustic guitar that ends the record and shows that there might be more to come from Toulon.
I also have to give the guys some props for their cinema knowledge. They close their 41-minutes-monster with ”Home” a tour de force with a lot of wonderful dynamics between slow and heavy spanning more than eight minutes. And in these eight minutes they incorporate some lines from my favorite scene from my favorite Anti-War-in-Vietnam-Movie: the suicide monologue of Private Paula in the bathroom during the last days of training camp before being sent to Nam in the middle of Full Metal Jackett: “I am in a world of shit!”</i>. We all know what happens next in that scene! When thinking that they use these lines in a song called ”Home” one can either see this as diabolical sarcasm or to counteract the homely track title. Indirectly this also shows their ability to make one think about the intentions behind their songs and also the way they put layer upon layer in their songs. Thus one has this incredible music and something to think about.
Well-done guys! Now, after you took two years to write your debut, you now have one to come up with new songs – can hardly wait!