Thursday, April 22, 2010

FAUNA "THE HUNT" (Aurora Borealis)

Gorgeous, epochal 71 minute suite of atavistic pagan black metal from the Cascadias. Fauna operate from a space far removed from the majority of modern black metal and while correlations can easily be drawn to other nature-worshiping bands like Wolves in the Throne Room, Fauna achieves a distance in their music that only comes from the outright rejection of society and a subscription to more ancient values. "The Hunt" is nothing less than a ritual and it feels like one when listening to it. I've encountered plenty of black metal records that attempt to set a magickal aura with their sound but Fauna actually delivers. There's an organic element to their approach that few other bands seem capable of capturing or tapping into and the resultant atmosphere is a dark, thick tapestry of nighttime evocations and praise thrown out to the cosmos.
"The Hunt" is presented as a seven part movement alternating between the aforementioned ritualistic musical soundscapes and lengthy blasts of atonal, ultra-repetitive black metal, a sort of Slint by way of Burzum demonstration that leaves the listener wanting little and wrapped up in a whirling, dizzying state of hypnotic mesmerization. The record reaches a dual apex in the near 20 minute "The Scent" and the 15 minute closer, "The Kill...Fulfillment" (itself divided into two equally different parts, "The Feast" and "Ascension of the Prey's Soul") wherein black metal conventions are reduced to their basest forms and Fauna totally bludgeon you into a state of lulled, rubbery submission via their endless, passionate repeating of vaguely melodic mid-paced power chord destructionisms. The intent of "The Hunt" is to take the listener on a journey through the mind of a predator, to bond you to the simplest survival instinct and make you understand the idea of kill or be killed, the necessity of what is essentially murder in a less intellectual setting, the idea that as much as we like to deny it, baser drives are what motivate us in almost all decisions.
The music plays this journey out extraordinarily well. There are moments of extreme fist-clenching tension, sweat-soaked minutes of dark and menacing contemplation, elegiac laments borne of clean and austere guitar figures exploding into thrilling, cathartic adrenaline-fueled release. Fauna bring you there with the wolf, alongside the solitary quest for survival, a witness to the necessary cruelties that nature demands of its creatures. It all peaks with "The Kill," wherein the bloodlust is sated by way of "The Feast", whose buzzing metalstorm gives way to the achingly beautiful coda of "Ascension of the Prey's Soul," an absolutely commanding and epic tribute to the prey just taken, a reverence for what it has given and the blood that once flowed through its veins, alive and hot and slick with terror and awareness. Fauna weave a thick fog of heaven-seeking keyboards amidst a clod of earthen guitar communion, creating a severe and majestic atmosphere of pagan worship.
This is flat out amazing black metal art, an obvious path to transcendence. Fauna have no goals beyond the adherence to a very personal philosophy and the commitment to that statement has birthed one of the most awesome and powerful black metal albums i've heard in years. It's a shining jewel in the USBM crown and a high mark for the genre as a whole. A masterpiece.

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