Ashen Horde

The weight of expectations can sometimes be quite heavy. Like your mother. So here comes Ashen Horde to give her a piggyback ride… or something. I don’t even know how to follow up my own analogy.

With their new one on the incomparable Transcending Obscurity Records, they (and by “they” I mean Trevor Portz) have enlisted Stevie Boiser of tech juggernauts Inferi. His vicious snarl is a welcome fit, which is apparent on the first track that isn’t an intro, “The Throes of Tragedy.” If you’re unfamiliar with the band, and you shouldn’t be, they’re sort of like a modern Emperor if they had continued their trajectory. I mean that in the feel and whisps of grandiose, bombastic moments, if not always in execution. This first one is more of a bruiser with excellent guitar shredding moments.

That continues into “The Consort,” the next track, except some excellent clean vocals appear very quickly. I originally thought this was a short track, but it’s almost 6 minutes, so for the second time in my life, I am wrong (sorry I prodded Uncle Bob so much… I didn’t really think he was stupid enough to storm the Capitol) Those clean vocals also continue into the next track, which is called “The Barrister.”

It’s after the next one when I feel like maybe I’ve heard all the tricks this beast has to turn… or something like that.

However, on tracks such as “The Courtesan,” I get a feeling from something I can’t quite identify. It’s kind of doomy and the clean vocals remind me of Cave In, while the guitars maintain that Emperor tone. During the solo section near the end of the track, the thrash bass in the background definitely helps differentiate this one from the pack.

The closer (minus the, let’s say interesting choice of a cover song to end the album) is called “Animus Nocendi,” with is the first song without “the” in the title, so it already stands out. It’s also over 7 minutes, so it’s the longest as well. The guitar soloing and overall wizardry is one of the best qualities of this track, but that can be said about every other one as well. Each track almost feels like Oprah is doing something worthwhile for a change and giving away free solos.

At the end of the album, every time, I am conflicted. This is in fact everything I wanted from a new Ashen Horde… before I knew I wanted more. This is well written, well executed, energizing, fun, and even exhilarating at times melodic black metal. Sometimes it just feels as if something is missing, but even I don’t know what it could be. Maybe more experimentation and stepping outside the bounds of the genre? That’s nit picking and the boys in this band deserve better because an absolute banger has been constructed here. If you’ve liked their previous output, don’t wait. Buy it! If you haven’t, you’ve been missing out and this is a great place to start.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
February 8th, 2023


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