Son of Aurelius - The Farthest Reaches (Cover Artwork)

Son of Aurelius

The Farthest Reaches (2010)

Good Fight

The tech-death metal scene has felt a little over-saturated as of late. Bands like the Faceless, Viraemia, Self Collapse and the Boy Will Drown (to name a few) have all put out great releases in the last few years, but the question remains: Is there enough room for all these acts to go around? Well, if you're Son of Aurelius, and have just released an incredible debut, the answer is "yes" and the sky is the limit. The aforementioned groups all obviously have chops, and these boys from Santa Cruz, Calif., can compete with ease. The difference, however, lays in the songwriting. The approach is not just "weedily-weedily, let's see how fast and hard and complicated we can play while still being technically musically correct" (though don't take that as a knock on some of the other bands). The difference here is the structure. Simply put, this is one of the catchiest metal albums ever put to tape, and whether or not you like the music does not change that fact. These songs will get stuck in your head (and without a clean vocal to be heard!).

The Farthest Reaches kicks off with "Mercy for Today," the first single. While I would have chosen a couple of other songs over this one to represent the sheer awesomeness of the album, and also the band's overall sound, it is the perfect lead-off track, and really sets things in motion. By the chorus, you know this band is a bit different. Instead of relying completely on confusing riffs, drowned-out basslines and seemingly pattern-less drumbeats, the frenzied instrumentation comes out extremely melodic and cohesive. The record continues with "Let Them Hate and Fear" and the title track. The latter is possibly the catchiest of the album, and contains the best intro to a guitar solo I've heard in awhile (the whole album is a solo-ist's dream).

Next up is "Olympus Is Forgotten," a shorter, heavier tune which leads into "Facing the Gorgon," a personal favorite which breaks into two incredible jazz sections and still has a pummeling solo at the end for good measure. Things get a bit more varied over the next couple of tracks, which find the band experimenting with the massive power they hold at their fingertips. Heavy this is, monotonous it ain't. "The Calm" is just that, like the eye of a storm. A nice piano piece is perfectly complimented by dual guitars, which brings things down just enough to fool you into thinking you're safe. Then "A Good Death" hits, and you're being assaulted again in no time.

The record ends with "The First, The Serpent," one of the more tech-laden tracks on the album, and the perfect closer. If you're a lucky son of a gun, and own the deluxe version (which I strongly recommend), you get five more wonderful offerings from these musical machines. I won't delve too far into the extras, but "Throne of Broken Gods" carries the best solo this band has ever written. If you're a fan so far, you will love the new songs. It might be the only time I've justified a deluxe reissue so soon after the original release date.

Here is what you'll find on The Farthest Reaches: incredibly technical, harmonic and powerful guitar work, spectacular wavering basslines that won't quit, impossibly fast and varied drums, and vocals that are in no way monotonous or unfit. I actually can't say enough about the vocals; they carry an intensity unmatched by any similar sounding bands. It's about time someone injected good screaming into good death metal. Everything here is top-notch, and if I can't find a bad word to say about the album, it's because there is truly nothing to gripe about; quite the opposite, in fact. If Son of Aurelius continues to put out music of this caliber, there will be no stopping them. Jump on board before they become the next big thing.