As you all are well aware, there has been a growing trend for a few years now with this whole “Cascadian black metal” thing and it’s just about reached its breaking point. Obviously Wolves in the Throne Room are the supposed pioneers of this subgenre and, like every other nook or cranny of metal,a million bands parrot what’s trendy which over-saturates the market. So yes, this style of metal has gotten old.And unlike the music of said genre, it’s gotten old quickly. The reason being is that the music typically is not very entertaining because the songs just drone on and on for what feels like hours.
Enter Ash Borer and their second full-length album Cold of Ages. They play a style of black metal that is very “Cascadian” sounding (geez… that term is so annoying) but luckily for them their take on the genre doesn’t induce an instant nap like the vast majority of the bands of their ilk. Granted, not a single one of the four songs on the album clocks in at under eleven minutes, but Ash Borer at least do their best to keep the marathon anthems as interesting as possible.
The production is quite clean but thankfully it’s not over-produced to the point of being sterile. The final mix has nicely retained the instruments’ bite and rawness, which leaves the listener with an abrasive yet accessible collection of nasty/sweeping tunes.
Ash Borer infuse various melodies within their songs and they incorporate various little nuances of different genres of metal into their art, but when they stray a little too far off the beaten path of their Cascadian foundation, it’s sadly not for too long. When things break away from the framework of their sound, songs like “Convict All Flesh” and “Descended Lamentations” become incredibly interesting. It’s short-lived, though, and the songs eventually revert right back to the droning black metal that drags every album of this nature into the mud.
Is Cold of Ages a terrible album? Absolutely not. But is it a must-have? For this reviewer, not at all. It’s simply a matter of taste and this whole “Cascadian” black metal thing has always been rather boring and tedious. Ash Borer is better than most of the bands who try to mimic Wolves in the Throne Room so that definitely works in their favor. It’s presumed that someone who loves this style of metal will eat this up, but it’s something this reviewer probably won’t return to for a long, long time.
[Visit the band's website]