Thursday 13 July 2023

Ara Solis - Ashvattha

Labels: Iron Bonehead Productions/Zazen Sounds

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital

Release Date: 14 Apr 2023


1. Trono Negro do Firmamento

2. Ara Solis 

3. Ashvattha (The Tree of Life and Death)

Black metal appears in all corners of the globe; however, the Galician region of Spain isn't a corner that immediately springs to mind when thinking of the often ice-cold, raw sub-genre. The duo Ara Solis released their debut album Ashvattha in April via Greek label Zazen Sounds (who handled the CD and digital release), while German heavyweights Iron Bonehead Productions too care of the vinyl release in May. 

Ara Solis are not one to go for it straight out of the blocks, as the unnervingly quiet intro to ‘Trono Negro do Firmamento’ demonstrates. What follows that intro is best described as raw, intense black metal. The drums sit deep in the mix underneath surprisingly warm guitars, while there’s a constant hiss (that’s probably employed for atmospheric reasons) flowing through the recording, adding to the unease that’s created by the shrieking/crying vocals.

The album opener stops dead giving way to ‘Ara Solis’, which this time employs deeper growls and grunts amidst the trance-inducing instrumentation. The guitars are much more drone-like here and the percussion blasts away in the background, as if it was an afterthought (though I’m sure it wasn’t). This is certainly at the more extreme end of the black metal spectrum, especially given it’s extended playing time. With all that said, ‘Ara Solis’ is very much a grower thanks in part to that droning and repetition. It’s growing on me anyway!

The album’s title-track ‘Ashvattha (The Tree of life and Death)’ goes another step further in both song length and bleakness. It brings together all of the elements woven into the album’s previous two songs. The repetitive song structures and the frightening raw screams make it an engrossing listen throughout it’s seventeen+ minute playing time. As the riffs slowly fade out, you’re left with calming ambient music that fits the release perfectly.

I was a bit unsure about this release at first but I really enjoyed it. It feels strange to say that you “enjoyed” something that’s meant to be the antithesis of catchy/radio-friendly music but I’ve been listening to heavy music for long enough now to know what I like. As debuts go, Ashvattha hits the spot. Iron Bonehead has done it again and I’ll be digging deeper into Zazen Sounds now too.

You can stream and purchase Ashvattha on all formats from Ara Solis below:-

Physical copies can also be purchased from the labels below:-

Iron Bonehead Productions -

Zazen Sounds -

Iron Bonehead Productions -

Zazen Sounds -

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