Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Ash borer : Cold of Ages
Even with the four and a half minutes of ambiance leading the opening song "Descended Lamentations" I find the California bands new album to be a much more focused effort than say the last Wolves in the throne room. Comparisons between the two band will be drawn, as they are American black metal bands whose songs tend to be more exploratory journeys than their peers in bands like Woe or Liturgy.
The biggest change here is the greater presence of keyboards in the mix and the descent into more roomier passages, making the feral blasty nasties more accented in transition rather than causing you to block out the ferocity as it washes in white noise. Not say those frenzied paces aren't here, they are and done rather well.
Another big change is the production value. This album was released on profound lore, so is not going to be in the too cvlt for school limited to 300 pressings on cassette club, so if that destroys the bands mystique for you then go seek hipster validation elsewhere as you really Won't be intrested on the musical advancements being made here. With better sound quality the band hasn't lost the coldness or bleakness of what they do , it has made the more musical elements decipherable so this makes the songs more accessible. However by the time you reach the last song some of the clarity presented earlier onis drown in favor for the more murky wash of the lo if cult sound,as the drums drop lower in the mix.
The vocals are still howled from the distance, the lyrics won't be included in any deluxe packaging because I doubt there are any. The tormented wails and croaks are like an abrasive glaze over the songs. They are delivered in similar fashion throughout never really varying in any type of rhythmic pattern.
The second song "phantoms" slides right out from the first as if this is once complete work which isn't surprising as their last album felt the same way.The slowed guitar is eerie and would appeal to fans of depressive suicidal black metal as well as adventurous fans of sludge and doom, who have never quite found an entry point into blackmetal
The third song the almost twenty minute "convict all flesh " really bludgeons midway through dropping into a half time power gallop and the simmering into the drone of guitar layered with spooky picked out chords that hover in reverb. The drums build like a blast beat. spawned by free form jazz, they simmer to a boil before spilling over into the chaos. If. I listen to it while laying down with less than three cups of coffee in me the droning nature of this one will literally lull me to sleep.
The closer "removed forms" is very cinematic in the more reserved passages, Ash Borer should score a 28 days later styled zombie movie, Becuase it gives the very bleak feeling like you are wandering a desolate city , lonely as you look up into the empty buildings with windows staring back like hollow eyes. This feeling is then plunged into the more typical tremolo picked blast section , at one point they use a very Motörhead beat which came across as sloppy but not sure if the recklessness is the feel he was going for, over all the drumming is greatly improved from their previous efforts.
The guitars are the stars of this one was the slower sections in the first songs are the only places I took notice of the bass being present. The guitar sound is a pretty dead on mix of having the cavernous reverb to creat the darkthrone coldness, to much better results than most American black metal. The choice of melody the chose to layer is very haunting , in some ways they are more relaxed and tend to gallop and chug at little less.
Coming up with a score for this four song album which is far from an e.p. as these are all lengthy excursions. So I decided in scoring this to look at the moments which grabbed me in each song. A lot of it is aurally numbing and falls into the hyborean method of becoming a drone of blast, in contrast the slower doomy sections come across as stronger and more distinct. I think I will give this one a seven due to the fact while I see this as a step forward for the band, some of the atmospheric builds drone on to long and the sticking to the conventions of black metal in the blasty sections bring a sense of monotony, the band has shown me too many great moments here and makes the blasts seem like they are giving me filler when drawn out for too long, other than these guys are poised to usurp the wolves from their throne room and have in many ways captured the sound of bleakness and made it their own.