Golden Ashes
A Lightless Christ Shuns The Crown Of Divinity

‘M’ or ‘Mories’ or his real name, Maurice De Jong, as he is known here, is the Netherlands’ black metal version of Rogga Johansson. He’s in double-digit bands, though I’ve onlyheard  Gnaw Their Tongues,  and arguably his most known creation and De Magia Veterum, as I reviewed releases by both on this very site.   And he has released numerous albums already in 2021. His many other projects (Black Mouth of Spite, Caput Mortuum, Cloak of Altering, Coffin Lurker,  Dodenbezweerder,  Grand Celestial Nightmare, Hagetisse, Malorum, Mystagogue, Obscuring Veil, Pyriphlegethon, The Black Mysteries, The Sombre) remain unknown to me, but I was curious about this particular one, Golden Ashes, as it touted more of a symphonic black metal element, and I’m a sucker for symphonic black metal.

This is the fourth album under the Golden Ashes moniker, and as far as I can tell, it sort of mixes his more orchestral Cloak of Altering musings and Grand Celestial Nightmare (arguably his most symphonically melodic, straightforward black metal project), it’s the least discordant and most ‘melodic’ (I use the term very loosely for all his projects) of his black metal efforts I’ve heard, not counting his more riff-based Pyriphlegethon efforts. If you know De Jong’s work, he tends to be nauseatingly discordant, and Golden Ashes are still pretty jarring, it’s just heavily glossed over with orchestration. The programmed drums are still a bit disconnecting, and the lo fi black metal underneath the heavy synths is barely audible, but it all sort of comes together for an experimentally off-kilter and surprisingly triumphant atmosphere that’s hard to pigeonhole.

The heavenly, seraphic themes and atmospheres created by the synths are countered by the subversive, chaotic riffs and Luciferian lyrics. Dimmu Borgir this is not, as don’t go looking for memorable hooks, or a big pre-chorus anywhere. The 8 song, 36-minute foray almost comes across as a Summoning LP played at 45 rpm. The synths deliver shimmering, organ, and trumpet-drenched dissonance on every song, with little to no respite. The keys come across as a Church organist on bath salts, freestyling to Wagner in his head while there are some distant howls and growls in the background. The guitars and actual riffs are almost undetectable amid the chaos, though you can hear the bass throb along. Still, it is not as utterly chaotic as De Magia Veterum or sickening as Gnaw Their Tongues, which uses the orchestration much differently. Here, the orchestration is almost the dominant instrument.

So while likes of  “A Lightless Christ Shuns The Crown Of Divinity”, “The Essence Of Your Body Became Celestial”, “Bewildered We Watched The Christ Ascend” and “The Twilight Pilgrims” all churn and seethe with dramatic,  angelic fury and majesty, it never really hits home or delivers anything to much more than a symphonically overbearing curiosity that’s worth a listen or two to hear De Jong’s considerable talent and ambition and something more palatable than some of other projects mentioned above.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
October 5th, 2021

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