As black metal heads into it’s 25th anniversary of existence as we now know it ,one might wonder why a band like California’s Ash Borer would be hyper vigilant against stumbling into main stream success. Despite the buzz generated by the spilt they did with Fell Voices ,It took me the greater part of 2011 to track down the band’s self titled full length debut .In keeping the kvlt cops happily grim , the band released the album in vinyl and cassette pressings of roughly 300 copies.Maintaining obscurity seems to be the mystique or shtick, making no effort to keep an online presence and only being referenced by the first letter of their first names.
This 3 song album clocks in just under forty minutes. It is best heard as one interconnected opus to experience it’s ebb and flow. Not unlike a horror movie setting it’s tone before the blood bath, the first minute of feedback ambiance of the album’s opener “ in the midst of life we are in death” warms you into the storm to come.The pummelling that follows is a hypnotic beating. the tremolo gallop snowballs into a wall of white noise .
. Like most of their peers in the American black metal scene they tip their hooded cloaks as much to Godspeed you black emperor as Darkthrone.The sonic drone comes at you with velocity and ferocity.The band gets lumped in with the trend of bands marrying shoe gaze to black metal, this is not accurate as the trickling guitar melodies are beacons in a chaos far more punishing than say Alcest’s heavier moments.
For a band obsessed with remaining the underground,the album is well produced. Raw and cavernous as needed, with dynamics intact capturing band’s live sound.Granted the vocals are a background howl and keyboards haunt the songs edges at best.The drums stir the fray with ominous accents a wise deviation from typical genre blast beat. This is most effective in the albums final three minutes when they break down into a half time pound and crush the speakers under the swell of guitar.
Think of this as more of a black metal Phillip Glass than the standard Wagnerian offering coming out of Europe. Ash Borer comes across as much more of a cinematic post - apocalyptic sound scape. If you need more verse to chorus structure you are already listening to that last Craft album so carry on. If the current crop of U.S.B, M, has left you wanting , this album offers a darker take on the genre than New York hipsters like Krallice and Liturgy. These guys aren’t out to make you dizzy with acrobatics, instead their tangible fury drags you into this aural mushroom cloud.
While my baby’s mother, the barometer for your average American pop consumer, thought the radio was stuck in the static between stations up hearing this album in the back ground any discerning fan of black metal would find the hunt for this album a wise investment in time . My ears seem to grow hungrier for it every day .i hope the band will get over themselves and make more of an effort to get their music out their to those with a similar craving.