Ashes Coalesce

I was and still am a big fan of Finland’s Convocation debut album Scars Across from two years ago.  I am already a huge fan of LL from Desolate Shrine and his work with them as well as Lie In Ruins.   Convocation fall into the doom/death category and the debut album enveloped such depressive, heavy and monolithic dense brooding riffs – that I bought the cd/shirt package.  I reviewed it here and it made my best of that year.  LL again does all the instrumentation and Marko Neuman on vox once again as Ashes Coalesce again contains just 4 songs all in 45 minutes – however, the last song is an instrumental – more on that later.

“Martyrise” is 12+ minutes and has an eerie atmospheric buildup until the 50 second mark – trust me lower those earbuds!!!  Massive growl and the plodding doom/death and Neuman letting loose with some super pained growls.  The drum pattern I can just picture someone getting beat to death over and over and over and over again.  It’s punishing.  Higher register shrieks permeate the listener’s brain as the squealing reverb on the guitars are about ready to collapse eardrums worldwide.  A lot of growls mixed in with the instrumentation and there are even some guitar melodies mixed in every so often.  The 7.11 part has some eerie guitar parts with excellent rolling drums, equipped with well placed double bass and a high pained scream from Neuman, as if he is being stabbed to death.  About a minute later I notice some Desecresy inspired guitar work and the song eventually continues along in a similar pattern until it trails off and ends.

“The Absence of Grief”, at over 13 minutes, immediately gets into the funeral doomish category with the opening moment, which actually had me thinking My Dying Bride, on their debut ep.  Very depressive and emotive with the guitar moments and then the agonizing growls spewed forth.  Some whispered like moments to add to the creep ambience.  While the opener went for a more brutal, punishing and angry form of doom/death, “The Absence of Grief” definitely calls more to mind vintage My Dying Bride/Anathema.  Riffs dripping with emotion and just enthralling to listen to something that sounds so hopeless.  LL is the leader in creating this type of music, currently, imo.  About halfway through the track there are some guest vocal appearances adding to the mix and then the song takes more of a turn toward the darker/eviler aspect which Convocation conjures up so magnificently.

“Misery Form” at 11 minutes is aptly titled for the depressing misery the song conjures up.  More varying vocal styles, which seem to have a female flair to them – and are really haunting in the background as the choral chants seem Gregorian in nature and this track is haunting as a muther – you know what!  I briefly spoke about the album closer – the 8 minute instrumental “Portal Closed”.

Musically speaking it’s very similar in style to old Anathema in the strong structure and overall guitar sound – however, it does get into a plodding, where the hell is this going territory.  The song, at around the 3.50 mark, gets into an atmospheric nose drip and then the song remains in this style until the end- with more sounds than anything else, rather than music – more of an outro, if you will.  Not my thing.  This 8 minute end, comes across as complete filler and if a few ideas were shifted around and vocals added, would have been the perfect ending to an otherwise, fantastic album.  I would have rather had this song scrapped in favor of just the band releasing a 3 song 37” album and the album would have left more of an impact as opposed to ending with filler.

Convocation’s Ashes Coalesce has 3 phenomenal songs and I wish it would have ended with “Misery Form”, instead of the 8-minute filler “Portal Closed”.  Unfortunately, it did not, thus making the end of this album disjointed.  Prior to it – I cannot compliment the band enough for crafting some horrifically, depressive, emotive, heavy doom/death with some funeral doom aspects to it.  The production is better than their debut.  All the wondrous music, vocals, and various sounds come through excellently.  The music goes great with the interesting album cover, which has me thinking: loss, redemption, darkness, rebirth, emptiness, despair and hopelessness.  Really some heavy and ponderous music.  I mean this honestly – if you suffer from extreme depression, especially during this damn pandemic – this may not be the music for you. For all others – have at it.  Sure, like their FB page, pick up the album and enjoy Ashes Coalesce – it’s quite good.


[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
September 16th, 2020


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