Friday 22 February 2013

Ash Borer - Bloodlands 12"

You may think that you like the heaviest music that the underground has to offer. You may think that you're ahead of the curve and you may shun mainstream metal magazines in favour of the next grimiest, most hate- fuelled noise you can find. When it comes down it and you've found that music, you cower away, scared to come out in case it's contents burst out of your speakers and eat you alive! You're weak and all you want to do is run into the arms of the nearest pop-punk band, well believe me you can run but you can't hide.

That's the kind of emotion that I felt when I discovered the new Ash Borer 12" lurking in the shadows of my inbox. You see, I like harsh noise and grinding guitars. I've found myself getting an ornate pleasure out of listening to heavier and heavier music over the last three years. It excites me! The point I'm trying to make here is that it's always good to challenge yourself and others with the music you listen to, instead of just listening to the same damn crap all of the time. That brings me on to Ash Borer and their new 12". Two tracks of majestic, chaotic black metal from a band that have been talked about in hushed tones in recent years, thanks to their quality and mystery. They pray on your imagination and security, bringing out emotions in you that you try to keep buried. This is black metal, but not as we know it.


1. Oblivion's Spring
2. Dirge/Purgation

The plucked guitar at the start of Oblivion's Spring sets a menacing tone, as if Ash Borer are playing with you
and waiting for the right moment to strike. It's this melody and ambience which draws you in, further and further until there is no way of escaping the horror and pain to come. Nearly three minutes in and the first sole scream pierces the guitar and in a moment breath, Ash Borer lurch into a frenzy of thrashing drums,
razor-guitar riffs and anguished, almost possessed screams. It's relentless in it's delivery and it's meant to be.
The subtle guitar melodies that impose themselves on the music tip you into a spiral of despair. They almost drone on and when the band break into a more sludge ridden dirge at five minutes in, the atmosphere fall lower again. The mixture of slower paced music and those distant screams just flatten you. This isn't a song, it's more of a journey and one which only the strongest willed would be able to endure.

It's hard to imagine that this unholy racket was made by just four souls, but as the feedback rings around you at the nine minute mark and out of it's ashes comes the sole bass/guitar passage, similar to the intro, you've pretty much given up and submitted yourself to a life of darkness. The only rare glimpses of light you do see, will come from that haunting guitar that washes over Oblivion's Spring during it's full span. The feedback and noise inflicted by Ash Borer goes on even as the song comes to a close, only getting more indecipherable as it goes. You can almost here the sound of the howling wind and air raid sirens heralding in a restless life.

Dirge/Purgation is no easier listen. It begins though with silence and then another haunting intro passages, with a mixture of gently plucked guitar and jarring feedback. It's equal parts beautiful and harrowing. Ash Borer seem to initially take their foot off the gas here, choosing not to batter you senseless. They choose the slower more psychological route, hoping that you will torture yourself in the process. It's a strangely uplifting beast though this one. As the song and the volume builds you feel your soul rising out of you and you almost feel a release. The energy you expended during Oblivion's Spring is finally gone and with it any trace of worry and anxiety and you are left at piece. The afterlife however, is not what you expect. It's not nice, just as life was. As the drums add heft to the winding riffs that have been filling your ears for the last five minutes, it reminds you that salvation does not exist even in death.

This is where Ash Borer turn the pace up again and with it their blackened noise. It's amazing to actually see the impact that the vocals have on this release, with them sitting so deep in the mix but it actually works really well. The guitars are the most prominent instrument here and the drums, while buried beneath the dissonance, still add weight to the music. The vocals are more minimally used here though, unlike the relentless ravaging in Oblivion's Spring. They rely more on instrumental chaos here. Also, as you'd expect from a song with dirge in the title, there are moments where they slow things down or repeat things and at nearly twenty minutes, this is more of an endurance test that it's predecessor. Just sitting back and listening as it winds it's way toward it's end is fascinating, purely for the power it harnesses. The sound just reverberates around and simultaneously makes you want headbang and run away.

Put simply, you probably won't hear a black metal album like this again this year. It's everything you want in one but are too scared to track down. Resistance is futile. You will not escape!

If you dare, you can listen to the opening track - Oblivion's Spring on bandcamp below:-

The Bloodlands 12" has been released by Gilead Media and can be bought directly from their webstore at and by Psychic Violence and can be bought from here

Ash Borer can be found here

1 comment:

  1. Apologies, I forgot to mention Psychic Violence in the post. Will update it later. Sorry.