Auras’ second full-length album, Binary Garden, is a reassuring reminder that a good metal album is more than just blastbeats and tireless chugging. Coming off the success of their debut full-length album, Heliospectrum, the group from Waterloo, Ontario took another ambitious step forward with Binary Garden – incorporating new sounds, flavors, and lyrical themes.
The album was released under Good Fight Music / Entertainment One, recorded by Dean Hadjichristou (Parkway Drive, Protest the Hero), and was mixed by Jordan Valeriote (Structures, Counterparts).
Since their first musical project was released in 2013, Auras has been able to retain their signature, djenty-type sound while managing to evolve into new avenues of musical creation. Binary Garden is what I imagine a Rorschach painting sounds like. Though its chaotic at times, its calculated. Though it assaults you with breakdowns and powerful vocals, it subdues you with moments of clarity and solace. The way I listen to this record may be completely different than the way someone else listens to this record – and that’s a wonderful thing.
When you have such a vast collection of sounds like the ones in Binary Garden, it allows you to pick and choose what you want to listen to during each sequential playthrough. The first time I listened to this record I keyed in on the wide vocal contrasts between lead vocalist Eric Almeida and guitarist Josh Ligaya. This album transitions from chest-pounding screams to soothing “clean” vocals at the flip of a switch. Many bands adopt the “cleaner” vocal style as they evolve as musicians, but it’s not always effective. Auras began to go down that path with Heliospectrum, and it has paid off.
On my second listen, I was more interested in listening to the instrumental aspects of Binary Garden, which on the surface may seem like a hodgepodge of loud noises. But when I really focused my attention on each individual instrument, I recognized a unique sense of flow. Albums like Binary Garden require a certain sense of attention to truly appreciate everything that’s going on below the surface. The combination of groovy drumbeats, electronic ambience, and sporadic riffing can be overwhelming at first, but rewarding when you really dissect them.
This type of musical style can be viewed as a positive or a negative, depending on the type of listener you are. Some people don’t want to have to actively work to enjoy an album. I, for one, love an album that takes three or four listens to truly get an understanding for its identity, which is why I’m giving Binary Garden a 4/5 stars.
Purchase this album here.