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Be Careful What You Wish For…

Arrt (2014)
Rating: 9.5/10

Aug is an American hard rock band that have appeared on the same stage as Faster Pussycat, L.A. Guns, White Lion, Dokken, Joe Lynn Turner, Blue Öyster Cult and countless others. And with these details on their CV I expected a full-throttle opus of driving riffs, exemplary vocals and catchy tunes… and boy these guys have not disappointed!

Now I love metal magician Ozzy Osbourne, but the poor fellow hasn’t released a top-notch album for a long, long time, yet Aug’s latest chunk of melodic is the album the Ozzman could only dream of making today.

Pumped by hard-hitting percussion, solid riffs, and vocals that even Ozzy would be impressed with, Aug’s new eight-track opus has to be one of the year’s best, and what better way to kickstart an album than by the supreme title track.

Again I have to refer to Ozzy, because this cranked up lump of catchy heavy rock sounds as if it was plucked straight from one of Ozzy Osbourne’s classic albums; it really is that good. Vocally, Aug is also very much in that Ozzy mode – clear, domineering tones boasting an almost whining quality, and backed with an absolutely killer riff. In fact, this track could well be on everyone’s lips by the time the summer is over. “Welcome into my world, welcome to my dreams, I can change your life… give you everything you need” bellows guitarist Anthony “Aug” Augostine, as Tommy Shauger’s leads playfully worm their way around the percussion of Russ Latamer and the bass trundles of Rich Tanis. The whole feel of the track is Ozzy at his best and I can’t get enough of it, finding myself lapping at the speakers like a thirsty dog begging for more.

Now, Aug isn’t that new on the scene; the musicians have been around in some form for a couple of decades on the New York / New Jersey scene. The band formed in 2011 and released their debut album, 20 Years In Hell, in the same year. But for me this new opus is the one that’s going to get heads turning and ears pricked, and if it doesn’t then I’ll literally give up on the metal scene.

These guys aren’t just one-hit wonders either. ‘Little Green Fairy’ comes riding in like a charging boogie anthem – it’s Black Sabbath at its most frolicking, I guess. And then there’s the fantastic ‘Light Of Day’ with its cool opening riff, hefty skin slaps and a killer solo – it’s traditional metal firing on all cylinders, this time nodding to the early Ozzy years, and I just can’t fault it.

‘The Devil’s Rejects’ is one of the album’s hardest moments; bass and drum combine to form a crushing vortex of power before the nodding guitar chug enters. This is pure traditional doom metal; the sort of grey haze formed from the ashes of Sabbath and which made the likes of Pentagram, Witchfinder General etc. so potent. It’s as if this band doesn’t have to try, because the sound they have spawned just feels so natural, even with its strong Ozzy Osbourne influence.

‘Coming Home’ is another burning metal rocker that leaves a trail of black smoke across the sky, while ‘Forever Goodbye’ has a hint of reflection and melancholy as “Aug” yawns, “So was I everything that you thought I’d be? Memories of the times we’ve shared still haunting me. Cos’ when I look into your eyes I just see an empty glare”… and then the riff hits. If only Tony Iommi hadn’t concentrated so much on regurgitation for Black Sabbath’s 13 opus (2013), because on this occasion Shauger has come up with a beast of a lick that will live long in my memory. Having been a fan of doom metal kings Trouble for so long, I’m truly spellbound by Aug’s latest offering, which has certainly filled the gap since Eric Wagner’s departure from the lords of Chicago.

I really cannot praise this album enough. ‘All I Can Be’ is sure to cause earthquakes as it rumbles along, but if it’s surprises you’re after then look no further than the closing cover of Toto’s 1982 classic ‘Africa’. It’s clear that these guys can do no wrong and remain versatile within their framework of weighty hard rock. I’m always sceptical when it comes to covers, but Aug are able to adapt to the dynamics of the song. Vocally, “Aug” is within himself until that booming chorus, and I’m then left rather flabbergasted.

I wasn’t expecting such a staggeringly brilliant composition. If you don’t purchase this wonderfully fluid and orgasmic recording then it is your loss, believe me.

Neil Arnold

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