Album Reviews

Auralayer: ‘Thousand Petals’ Album Review

There are some bands that defy categorization. Words like Rock, Metal, and Pop are simply poor descriptors for a truly complex musical tapestry. 

That’s the case with Auralayer, the power trio out of Greenville, SC. With three musicians pulling from unique genres, the resulting sound is simultaneously heavy, catchy, and—more than anything else—unpredictable

So, even though the band is rooted in traditional Stoner Rock and Doom themes, those are just starting points. Auralayer is as much High on Fire as they are Rush, and as Hüsker Dü as they are Black Sabbath. It’s an exciting mix that creates an exciting album in the band’s debut, Thousand Petals—an album that was recorded, mixed, and engineered by Phillip Cope of Kylesa.  

About Auralayer

Auralayer can trace its roots back to 2019 and is made up of:

  • Thomas Powell (Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, FX/Pedals)
  • Jake “Kimble” Williams (Vocals, Bass Guitar, Miscellaneous Percussion)
  • Vladimir Doodle (Drums, Percussion, Backup Vocals)

The true beauty of Auralayer comes from the band members’ musical diversity. Although Powell is a major fan of Doom bands like High on Fire, Williams primarily listens to Pop-oriented Rock like The Beatles and the Talking Heads. Doodle, meanwhile, loves Progressive Rock, and he pulls many of his cues as a drummer from Neil Peart. 

Even more refreshing, though, is the simple fact that Powell is the only one truly familiar with the clichés of Stoner Rock and Doom. Before working inside Auralayer, Williams was unfamiliar with the conventions of the heavier side of Rock and Metal, and Doodle simply feels the music as it comes. 

And with Phillip Cope around, the band was able to successfully harness their own sound. “Phil has had a huge influence on me as an artist,” says Powell, “so it was great having him around [the studio]. He’s just as passionate about our music as we are, so it almost feels like he’s part of the band. And since he’s worked on so many cool projects, like the first Baroness album, he has so many cool perspectives and great attention to detail, and that really helped us capture the sound we were going for.” 

Thousand Petals Album Review

Tracks: 9
Length: 35:56
Release Date: July 14, 2023
Label: King Volume Records

Track 1: The Lake

The first time I heard “The Lake,” I thought, What the hell is this song? 

“The Lake” is like nothing else we’ve touched on Monster Riff, and it’s all thanks to that frenetic opening, which relies so heavily on those furious, palm-muted power chords and heart-attack drumming. On a first listen, the verses on “The Lake” are chaotic and disarming, but that only makes the chorus a silky-smooth adventure by comparison. 

Categorizing “The Lake” is a tricky endeavor, but phrases like “Speed Doom” come to mind. And although “The Lake” lacks the ear candy so prevalent throughout Thousand Petals, you have to respect the band’s vision for the opener. 

Track 2: All My Time

One of the singles from Thousand Petals, the familiar Psychedelic-infused Stoner Rock textures of “All My Time” make it a solid compliment to the hectic delivery behind “The Lake.” There’s a powerful, groovy, sexy riff propelling “All My Time” forward, and Williams’ smooth, shouted vocals are a captivating icing on the Auralayer cake. “All My Time” is easily one of the best songs on Thousand Petals—a quality we’ll see carried throughout tracks 2 through 4 (which were, incidentally, the first three songs Auralayer ever wrote). 

Track 3: Christ Antler 

Another single ahead of the Thousand Petals release, “Christ Antler” thrives on its ethereal tones and vocals, creating a pseudo-Dream Pop-Doom hybrid. While there’s plenty of deep emotion and unexpected guitar work to keep the song engaging (“Christ Antler” has one of the best guitar solos on the album), you’ll want to pay especially close attention to those drums! 

Track 4: Faith to Reason

Another great song on all fronts, “Faith to Reason” often sounds like a mashup between Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden—a quality that calls to mind Faerie Ring, the band’s King Volume Records label mates. 

Track 5: Shelf Black

“Shelf Black” provides a sudden melodic shift akin to Candy Apple Grey-era Hüsker Dü; with those churning guitars, I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear Williams cry out, “Don’t wanna know if you are lonely!” 

But those Post-Hardcore/Alt Rock vibes are temporary. The second half of “Shelf Black” carries a moody, Doom-driven vibe that carries us all the way into track six. 

Here’s a quick side-by-side comparison of “Shelf Black” and “Don’t Wanna Know If You Are Lonely.”

Track 6: Peacemonger

Slow and mysterious, there’s a playful quality in “Peacemonger” created by the undercurrent of bass. Eventually, the fuzzy chorus roars to life, and Williams’ soaring vocals will embed the song into your head over and over and over again. 

Track 7: You Walk

Despite the thick, fuzzy Stoner Rock riffs of the introduction, “You Walk” pulls just as heavily from the spacey, dreamy vibes of the ’80s for its verses.

Track 8: Dance to Thrash

With a title like “Dance to Thrash,” I had expected this track to be the fastest song on the record. But “Dance to Thrash” is all over the place—in a good way. It’s only after a slow introduction and a thick bassline reminiscent of early Nirvana that the song picks up any sort of Thrash speeds.

Track 9: Monstrum

When you live within the Stoner Doom space, there are certain conventions and habits you come to expect. And when a six-minute song appears at the end of an album filled with three- and four-minute tracks, you make certain assumptions.

That song is either going to be a slow, Doom-inspired event, or it’s going to be a Stoner Rock riff-fest. 

“Monstrum” is neither. Quick, upbeat, and catchy, the first half of “Monstrum” actually sounds much like The Sword, the heavy Stoner Metal heroes out of Austin.

The shift in “Monstrum” comes right around the halfway point, when Williams tears into a terrifying growl—and although the song continues at the same pace, it moves with an unsettling, demented quality until it finally arrives back at the chorus. 

Final Thoughts On Thousand Petals

Final Score: 9.5/10

Standout Tracks: “All My Time,” “Christ Antler,” “Faith to Reason,” and “Shelf Black”

Pros: The originality within Thousand Petals makes it the most refreshing album we’ve covered on Monster Riff. With so many disparate influences, Thousand Petals is an unpredictable Metal record—but it still follows enough Metal conventions to make it familiar. 

Much of the songwriting here is impeccable, and the trio of “All My Time,” “Christ Antler,” and “Faith to Reason” fit together like a wonderful musical glove. 

And, if it’s not already abundantly clear, Thousand Petals is an album packed with wonderful, unexpected surprises. The growls in “Monstrum,” for example, are sudden and unprecedented on the album, but they work perfectly in adding an extra dash of gravity before the record’s conclusion. 

Cons: Thousand Petals is an album of experimentation and risks, and not every endeavor in the lab pays off.

Even after I lost count of listens, “The Lake” remains a jarring song with an unsettling aggression that’s impossible (for me, at least) to fully embrace. 

Fortunately, the band brings it all together for “Monstrum,” that excellent album conclusion. 

Learn More About Auralayer

To learn more about Auralayer, follow them on Facebook and Instagram or check out their Bandcamp.

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