Austere
To Lay Like Old Ashes


4.0
excellent

Review

by lobby USER (14 Reviews)
August 15th, 2009 | 36 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A few patches are easily forgiven when the music’s this good. Austere have created one of the finest atmospheric black metal pieces of the year.

Perhaps it’s the fact that country Australia gets no rain. Perhaps it’s the fact that the trees cannot grow and the wildlife have departed to coastal areas. Whatever it is, Austere have captured the dry, epic atmosphere of a barren landscape and replaced the traditional Norwegian forest with “the sticks”. This is a depressive, epic black metal release with some of the grandest instrumentations, likely to urn them some well-deserved respect.

That realization is quick to notice. A minute thirty in, the passive instrumental album-opener is over, tricking you into turning up the volume before To Fade With the Dusk hits you with a priest-brain-stained club, bringing you to your knees. It’s hard not to crack a smile in these opening minutes, especially as we are introduced to the tormented banshee wail of the drowning vocalist. The black metal sound is different. It’s unlike the angry nihilistic apocalypse heard on other black metal releases. It’s not even similar to other atmospheric black metal productions. This is much slower, much more free-flowing, with aching guitar-driven explorations and beautiful pain-filled compositions. The album seems to have conceptual roots in delivering an experience of being lost in a desolate environment, void of light and happiness. It’s in this motif that the album shines; pulling listeners into the manifestation of something evil.

If To Fade With the Dusk was twice as good as the rest, it would still make a fine album. Brilliant riffs are given the time to expand until the sound peaks as a sonic account of passionate agony. This sound could be arguably described as a soulless orchestra more akin to a black metal interpretation of “Hymns to the Immortal Wind” than anything resembling something influenced by the mighty Varg. As the song progresses, the drums become more explorative, the guitars more treacherous and the screams more hollowing, until the next track, This Dreadful Emptiness, kicks in slowing things down until crashing into a pit of emptiness, before starting up again with passionate atmosphere and tearing screams. It’s this moment that the band is at its finest, rotating the solos around so each instrument has an opportunity at expressing its own misery. Snare drums, guitars, cymbals, bass drum; they all get a round. The way this song falls, and then picks up again, only to be more bleak and atmospheric as before is amazing. Not wanting to sound like we’ve stumbled upon the magnum opus of 2009 metal, it’s hard to think the band could go wrong from here, especially considering the title track is next.

Somewhere within To Lay Like Old Ashes, someone decided it would be a good idea to start implementing some clean vocals. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, however at that moment, it really didn’t suit. It’s like saying, “Hey, we’re half way through our awesome title track and because this song is the amalgamation of everything this album stands for, we’ll throw in some of those experimental cleans we were using in the fifth track to show how ***ing diverse we can be”. It hurts that these cleans have been included to disrupt a song that was coasting along very nicely (if ever a depressive black metal song could be ‘nice’), but it’s the delivery of these cleans which is most worrying. I must keep stabbing myself in the ear to remind me that this is an unheard of band with only their second album, not bloody Shining’s “VI”. The band doesn’t have a good clean vocalist and the inclusion of this aspect has been detrimental to their success. What must be realised is that up until this point, the vocals have consisted of a shrill holler which is looped over and over to stick it to the listener that they are stuck in an endless, torturous fix. Surprisingly, it works rather well, and is one of the main attractions and dependents in creating the unique sound.

Instead of pushing you into the fire to show how angry they really can be, Austere have built upon ideas to slowly reveal the full extent of their soul-enveloping bereavement. This can be seen on Just For a Moment… that slow-boils the listener, gradually increasing in hostility until we hearken a true wonder capable of holding your full attention. This song is plagued with the infamous cleans, although is more than solid in an album that defies

The last track is over twenty minutes long and for some reason, it hinted at being the most epic black metal song ever. I’m not going to give it away, but don’t get your hopes up, because the stellar performance has not been replicated in the last track, which is repetitious, useless and significantly under-performed. Although, it doesn’t matter because at 54 minutes, this album provides plenty of terrific black metal with (disregarding the last track) no filler.

The raw emotion on this album is perfect in creating something so epic and heart-felt that it is hard to understand that this is only the band’s second full-length album. Unlike other ABM acts, Austere have honoured their musicianship by allowing a virtually clean production. They’re not aiming for angry. Not even misery. The atmosphere is simply wrought to a life of neglect and loneliness. Burzum re-incarnated, this is not, however it is a stunning outlet for entertaining, epic, black metal and a worthy addition for any fan of the genre.

Austere’s “To Lay Like Old Ashes” is out Februrary 27, 2009 via Eisenwald Records



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user ratings (63)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
lobby
August 16th 2009


1251 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

If rasputin sees this, I ask him to give these guys another chance after he rated thier 2007 album '2'! And if rasputin likes this, all his buddies will as well and then everyone would look at my review and see how cool i am...

edit: also, everyone should check out my list which i put together which has some of my other recent favs of the year.
http://www.sputnikmusic.com/list.php?listid=28452&memberid=279937

rasputin
August 16th 2009


14550 Comments


A lot of the guys on the forums like this band, but the album that I heard was just ugh. I generally like the idea of depressive bm and the sound they're going for, but in most cases the vocal work is laughable and just ruins the entire thing. If depressive black metal with good vocals becomes the new thing, i'll be there.

Review is good, and it's nice to see some less predictable bands being reviewed. Also I recall you were Australian too, I dunno where you are situated, but over here in WA it has been raining for about two months so your opening sentence just didn't hit the right chord =)

TricksterGRex
August 16th 2009


2087 Comments


good review, band is pretty good too

rasputin check out nyktalgia's first album or dwelling lifeless by sterbend, the vox aren't too annoying on those imo (although sterbend prefers howling vocals to shrieks)

lobby
August 16th 2009


1251 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

well, i'm from melbourne, and stfu about it raining, it ruins my review. but seriously, we're in a drought over here, and it's worse in country victoria. These guys are from country NSW though, so dunno, but think its pretty bad there too...

yeah, like i said in the review, the cleans are really shit, but luckily that's only on 'Just for a Moment...' and a bit on 'To Lay Like Old Ashes', but besides that, it's really good.
'This Dreadful Emptiness' and 'To Fade With the Dusk' are the greatest. And even 'To Lay Like Old Ashes' is really good!!



rasputin
August 16th 2009


14550 Comments


well it's not really the cleans, it's the howling and anguish-ridden lolness of it all. i like howling when it's done reasonably well (Akitsa comes to mind), but yeah, these guys didnt do it well imo.

ill check those out trickster

Captain North
August 16th 2009


6789 Comments


I never thought country Australia would produce a black metal band. The sheer thought of it astounds me.

rasputin
August 16th 2009


14550 Comments


we have a few cool bands tbh. not that many black metal though, it's very sparse (almost as much as doom). Portal are a standout however.

Zip
August 16th 2009


5312 Comments


Nazxul is from Australia and they are pretty decent, however they sound more like blackened death metal than anything

Captain North
August 16th 2009


6789 Comments


There's a difference between being from Australia, and being from country Australia.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
August 16th 2009


17222 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I checked this out a few months ago after seeing its high score on Rate Your Music. The music is good but the vocals are SOOOOOOOOO bad. It's embarrassing.

lobby
August 16th 2009


1251 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ne Obliviscaris is pretty much the best black metal Melbourne has, and we're pretty proud of them...

yeah, most of the music is played over a very shrill howl which is looped over and over. Not everyone's cup of tea, but if you don't mind that, it's a very rewarding album. Like i've said before, "This Dreadful Emptiness" is one of the best BM songs i've heard in a while...

Thanntos
August 17th 2009


320 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I only added this album a week or so ago and look, already a review!
Good job on it btw.

Since your into ABM, I suggest you check out Arthemesia's 'a.O.a.' It's even better then this.

lobby
August 17th 2009


1251 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I shall check it out most definitely!! The reason why I added this review was because I thought these guys were really good, and they deserved to be acknowledged, plus they're from Australia, my hometown...

Thanntos
August 17th 2009


320 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I agree, they deserve the attention, and deserve the recognition for this album.
I prefer Arthemesia's Vocals though.

BallsToTheWall
September 12th 2009


44606 Comments


Holy crap this was reviewed. Where the hell was I? Seriously. Good work, and really dig the clean vocals.

Digging: Mare Cognitum - Phobos Monolith

lobby
September 12th 2009


1251 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, listen up, it's really good...

TheEnforcer
January 2nd 2010


270 Comments


First paragraph is amazing, I love the comparison you use. brilliant pos'd

Hawks
March 23rd 2011


35838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This slays so hard.

JizzInMyPants
May 3rd 2011


2371 Comments


so ya heard fo this band like 50 minutes ago, so i youtubed the dreadful emptiness...

so yea 50 minutes later i am still replaying the last half of that song

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
May 3rd 2011


16434 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is decent.

Digging: Swallowed - Lunarterial



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