Beneath The Mask – A Review of ‘En Ergô Einai’ by AARA

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“The human being wears a mask, since it is almost never itself. It feels strange and uncomfortable with itself, if it is forced once to face its innermost. That, which is – is nothing. That, which seems to be – is everything.”

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Just so you know – I wasn’t originally intending to write this album up. It wasn’t in my schedule, I simply didn’t have enough time. When it was originally given to me a few weeks back the sender presented it with one comment: “THIS IS A MASTERPIECE”. Huge words, right? I usually take such overblown hyperbolic statements with a grain of salt, but when I finally listened to it… holy fuck.

En Ergô Einai, the sophomore conjuration from Swiss melodicists AARA, needs to be brought to your attention. The duo of Fluss and Berg caught the world’s eye with their debut So fallen alle Tempel last year, and if you enjoyed that (like I did), get yourself a chair because they’ve built on everything that was great about that and refined every element further, fashioning their attack into something frequently jaw-dropping and with enough kick to knock you clean off your feet. But not in a pompous, over the top or avant-garde sort of way – their strength has always been understated brilliance hidden beneath a familiar enough melodic, atmospheric framework. A mask, if you will. Look deeper into the intricacies of this mask and you’ll see that although they do what you’ve almost certainly heard others do before, they do it so well and with enough of their own idiosyncratic twist that it rises head and shoulders above almost all others in the field.

How do they do this? Aside from all the other superbly executed components in this intoxicating concoction (the vocals are just the right timbre and the percussion is suitably relentless, notably utilising the type of stellar ride abuse that would make Darkside of Mgła nod in approval) the epic leads and riffs take centre stage and are nothing short of sublime. Immerse yourself in the detailed world created by the first two tracks ‘Arkanum’ and ‘Stein auf Stein’ and you’ll marvel at Aara‘s now-trademark triumphant melodies and stirring progressions that would be quite at home in classical compositions or even chamber music – it’s a true delight to listen to, and ‘Stein auf Stein’ alone is one of my favourite tracks of the year for that reason.

From then on the mood of the record switches up a little and leans into slightly more post-black melodic territory, but still performed to absolute perfection, of course. The only negative I can really say about it is that it’s possible to feel the album blew its stack just a touch too early, as when listening to the next couple of tracks (which are still killer, don’t get me wrong) I find myself missing that soaring sophistication of the opening dyad – luckily for me however, the ultimate composition ‘Telôs’ makes steps back in that direction and ends the album on a dazzling, transcendent note that will lift you up into the heavens. The gents have intimated En Ergô Einai is a tale of man’s search for knowlege and enlightenment, and this final track ends the tumultuous journey with the listener’s seeming obtainment of that higher state of being.

So yeah, despite a stacked schedule I crammed in a super quick review because beneath the mask this album is simply thrilling. It even has a guest spot from Vindsval of Blut Aus Nord as the icing on the cake (he performs the acoustic intro). Is it a masterpiece? It’s fucking close. With two albums and an EP under their belt Aara are without a doubt amongst the best to be doing this sort of thing in 2020, and they seem to only be getting better. Delve deeper. Buy this album.

Rating: 4.2 / 5

En Ergô Einai releases 3rd April via Debemur Morti Productions.

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Pre-order En Ergô Einai on CD or digital from Bandcamp HERE, or on LP from the Debemur Morti webstore HERE.

Support AARA:

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