Fun fact bovine fans, an Auroch was a species of massive black wild oxen, originally from the wilds of Asia, Europe and North Africa. Their final dwindling numbers before dying out were last recorded in Poland in the early seventeenth century. One of the largest known species of herbivores in post glacial Europe, the animal had few natural predators, was known for its swift athletic abilities and to harbour an aggressive nature.
An Angry Auroch ladies and gentlemen, is a clever way calling yourself a raging bull. This raging bull in question is Andrew James Reid.
In previous guises Andrew has contributed enthusiastically to the heavy side of the Manchester music scene by featuring in heavyweight Psychedelic Doom Ripley, the respected Post-Metal stylings of Raucous and horror themed Sludge Dog Kicked In Half. In addition to this he also played in folk rock duo Gatherers and was fundamental in helping Manchester based promoter Future Noise during the 00’s.
Now today he brings us War Weary World and in the words of his own press release, this is a collection of ‘Songs about Isolation, ageing, domestic violence and murder.’
Recorded over a two year period between 2017 and 2019 and despite the heavyweight title this is, self-confessed, an album that has more in common with the solo work of Steve Von Till than the punishing sonic assault of Neurosis style Sludge that Reid has previously plied his trade in.
Spanning four tracks this is an album that has roots in the distorted fuzz of the past, but embraces a warm folk sound to build a platform for Reid’s tales of a world fatigued and in pain.
The biggest example of this is opening track Past Lament, that ushers the listener in with shuffling folk or shoegaze that is a sombre reflection on what we have lost as we evolve into the modern world. The track is almost a slow, sad requiem for the past. Lament is a good word to use here as there’s almost rhythmical tribal chanting that could hark back to lost civilisations or ways of life. The track builds towards a jangling mid-section before sinking back down to ask if we have time to save ourselves.
There’s A Heart In There Somewhere follows with a lilting lullaby crooned over a dense droning fuzz once more. Tender and light in touch it’s almost anthemic indie as Reid pleads for hope and compassion in this world, searching for the light that will lead us all to redemption. Building from the tenderness of the previous track, this has melody and gloss, but also an underlying sense of despair and unease.
A War Weary World doesn’t seek to bludgeon you into submission, but stop you in the stillness to allow ideas to breathe and move you, and for that reason alone it’s more than worthy of your time…
Despite this Reid’s voice, with its heart on sleeve sincerity, often takes flight and articulates delicate emotional connections and raw pain that bring light and shade to the proceedings. There are times when he soars gracefully over the tracks like a combination of Marrow era Mike Scheit and early solo material Ozzy Osbourne.
This is no more so evident than on Life Is Not An Early Grave. The upbeat title does little to prepare you for the dense gritty melancholy of the music. Whilst not savage and full of blast beats, it does have an oppressive, mournful weight, much like Von Til’s gravel drawled own works but also sitting close to JK Broadrick’s work with Jesu.
Knowingly titled The She Shanty (not one to say after a few) as the closing piece of the album seems to bridge the two over arching styles. Picked strings and smoky vocals open up a track of two halves. The first is stripped down and still, almost pure folk before light drums usher in a gentle swinging refrain that eventually gives way to an urgent spoken word passage recalling the gabbling of Mike Williams IX in the Corrections House collaboration. The end of the track breaks into an almost Sabbathian (if that’s not a word it is now and I’m claiming it…) pummelling sludge.
With An Angry Auroch, Reid has found a vehicle to channel his current world view, steeped in experience and the hope and cynicism that comes with growing older. Much like Kirk Windstien’s recent solo output (review), this isn’t an album that rages and thrashes and screams. This is a considered piece that straddles many styles, often at the same time and delivers a very real, and human, message in an increasing age of sensitivity and disconnection.
The balance between folk and drone, acoustics and call back to the sludge of his youth make for a mature and well sculpted piece of work that will appeal to those who like Jesu, Townes Van Zant and all things that stir the emotions as there are moments of pure soul barring vulnerability.
In honesty, this album may not quite live up to the raging bull moniker (although the second half of The She Shanty is pretty angry), it does contain an anger born out of wisdom; a knife that cuts sharper as it’s honed by a keen craftsman, rather than the blunt force trauma of youth. A War Weary World doesn’t seek to bludgeon you into submission, but stop you in the stillness to allow ideas to breathe and move you, and for that reason alone it’s more than worthy of your time.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden