Ash Borer – Cold Of Ages

Propelled by the frenzied wail of guitarist/vocalist ‘K’, Ash Borer’s latest exhibits an authentically frozen aura belying their Californian surroundings. This is definitely West Coast black metal, with atmospheric keyboards and the occasional female vocals, but the harshness of their approach on this album helps distance them from otherwise being tagged as being ‘Cascadian’, a scene the band denies being a part of. Whatever the case, Ash Borer have delivered an album more direct in assault than their Pacific Northwestern brethren. Vocalist/guitarist K has been quoted as saying Cold of Ages deals with “decay, dissolution, and terror”, and you can feel those concepts come alive as you step your way through the album. With screams verging on Silencer territory, you’ll find fear in place of comfort in the faster passages, as dissonant riffs pierce your ears with an urgency reminiscent of Weakling, albeit with a rawer picking style in places. Like the final anguished thoughts of a back alley murder victim, pained, horrific anger underpins the foundation for their aural effrontery on excellent prologue ‘Descended Lamentations’, determining the pace for the remainder of the record. The synths serve well here, keeping you suffocating with a ghostly haunt low in the mix until, midway through the track, things slow to a crawl, and you feel like your clawing back through the mold, only to take a knife to the forehead once you see the light (courtesy a smile-inducing, Reign In Blood-era tremolo riff ).

Third track ‘Convict All Flesh’ starts promisingly enough with high note guitars and a doomy pace prefacing yet another punishing blastfest. Jessica Way of Worm Ouroboros appears her very briefly, but plays an extended role on ‘Removed Forms’, and though she has a beautiful voice, I prefer my ‘Borer unsoftened. The rough-around-edges guitars of AB’s sound contribute to their power and uniqueness, and the abundance of ethereal vocals of this kind reduces their impact. Any regression of said impact inevitably leads the band back into the realm of the aforementioned Cascadian comparisons they’d rather avoid. Ash Borer, you are on the right track (your own). You truly don’t need the help.

Ash Borer create a soundwall not completely unlike others in the region, but I find theirs to be easier to penetrate and, as a result, less dull. Single-guitar breaks and hammering drums continually jar you out of the long-song almost-trances, awakening you out of the carefully composed lulls, keeping the energy high. Ash Borer have more to say, and if they can continue to grow while keeping it raw and fast, I’ll still be around to hear. -Jim

Profound Lore

~ by cliftonium on October 30, 2012.

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