Augury - Fragmentary Evidence
Nuclear Blast
Technical Death Metal
9 songs (55:02)
Release year: 2009
Augury, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Charles
Augury’s debut, Concealed was fascinating and eclectic; its distinctively Canadian, dense tech-death template augmented by innovations that enabled comparisons far beyond that scene. Vivid female vocal lines bestrode the rhythmic mesh with a surreal grace, harmonising theatrically like they do in Hammers of Misfortune, and the band showed a grasp of proggy light and shade with the capacity to spin real surprises, perhaps occasionally even out of some Canterbury Scene playbook. And that is how I view that album; a solid tech-death record lifted to a higher level by its ability to draw in striking foreign elements to the mix.

Several years later, there is Fragmentary Evidence. Despite the time elapsed, there haven’t been major overhauls of the sound; the basic template remains, with their adaptable death metal being used as a launch pad for other ideas. But, perhaps the ambitiousness and creativity of those other ideas has been diluted somewhat. Generally, the band’s sound doesn’t adventure as far into the outlands. The full-time female vocalists having left, this element has obviously been toned down (although something comparable makes a very brief appearance on Brimstone Landscapes courtesy of Unexpect’s Syriak and Leilindel). This is not to say there’s anything inherently unique about the other 50% of the world’s population making an appearance on a metal record; the point is more that the singing therein assumed such an otherworldly character in conjunction with the music that the effect could be jolting (in the best possible way).

Mood changes on Fragmentary Evidence continue to involve primarily the spacey, bass-twanging noodles that will be familiar to fans. However, the occasional, more surprising interjections of acoustic or even folky instrumental diversions are absent (these were never common on Concealed, but were just occasionally slipped in to keep the listener unbalanced), and the solos are maybe a bit less flamboyant. This is not to say it isn’t filled with intrigue; Jupiter to Ignite draws heavily on the freer outreaches of jazz, with hyperactive, cymbal-heavy ratatats fluttering around a murky and shifting set of bass and guitar sound effects and a schizophrenic approach to songwriting. Semi-tuneful growling on Sovereigns Unknown reminds me of the bizarre folky breakdowns on !T.O.O.H!’s Rad a Trest, but with a surprisingly fist-pumping true metal character rather than batshit hyperactivity. Simian Cattle pulls a similar trick less effectively, before segueing more intriguingly into shimmering, spacey realms.

Nonetheless, it’s perhaps not quite as unpredictable as Concealed,overall. Impressive, certainly, but without the element of surprise (given that it’s their second album, perhaps this is hardly fair). Throughout, Augury do a fine job of sounding like a more aggressive take on recent Cynic. They don’t have the latter’s mastery of refined melody, but they invest their similarly deep, multi-faceted sound with a higher level of power. In this regard it is also reminiscent of mid-period Death. Skyless, for example, gallops along enthusiastically with a bass line that leaps about like Steve DiGiorgio on Individual Thought Patterns, but the riffs twist and turn in a way that hadn’t yet been envisaged by the early 1990s. All the while, the basic death metal tone is deepened and coloured by cleaner, inventive instrumentation that shadows it and gives it depth- another Cynic innovation. In fact, I’d go so far as to say the pure death elements here are more interestingly handled than those displayed on the predecessor.

So the strength of their tech-death delivery probably compensates amply for the reduced presence of some of the more unique elements on Concealed (whenever I return to the latter, I miss the blood-curdling Argento-film screech to the vocal lines on Beatus, for example). So, slightly different, but only in the details, and improved in other ways. And still, therefore, worthwhile for fans of forwards thinking death metal in 2009.

Killing Songs :
Jupiter to Ignite, Sovereigns Unknown
Charles quoted 76 / 100
Other albums by Augury that we have reviewed:
Augury - Concealed reviewed by Jason and quoted 82 / 100
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