Review Summary: Fuck off non-elite!
A lot of times in the black metal genre, and really music in general, there will be some bands that you don't really enjoy at first. You'll see them get praised and you won't really understand where the praise has come from. Maybe you'll think an album is very dull and average and a lot of others think it's absolutely classic and one of the best things ever made. Well that's how I felt about Ash Borer's debut demo. I saw this band being recommended all over this site and people praising them left and right then when I first listened to this I thought, "Really? All that hype for this?" Well as you can probably tell by the rating, I've completely changed my mind on the album. Ash Borer's brand of atmospheric black metal, or as it's being called "Cascadian black metal" is absolutely incredible.
Might as well start off with the most important aspect of this album and that's definitely the instruments. First of all, this album doesn't have great production, but it's not terrible by any means. All the instruments are heard pretty much loud and clear. The guitar riffs and tremolo picking definitely have the biggest effect on this demo. They are used to create one hell of an atmosphere. When you hear some of the riffs on this album, they're going to put you in a trance like state. Now with only two songs on this album, the first being about 14 minutes and the second being about 11, you're going to hear the riffs repeated plenty of times. Now for some black metal bands repetitiveness can be bad, well that's not the case with Ash Borer. The riffs are extremely catchy and will stick in your head long after you listen to this album. Drumming is pretty standard for a black metal album. Now with atmospheric black metal you should know that it's all about atmosphere (obviously). The drums aren't really meant to stand out over the guitars and they really don't, but it's not like it's the same beat over and over. There's enough variety in the drumming to keep the listener entertained for the whole 25 minutes of the demo. Fast and slow parts are present on the album and the drums vary with that.
Vocally the album is pretty unique. Now the first thing you need to know about the vocals is that they aren't at the forefront at all. They're very low in the mix and you have to listen hard to even hear them under the riffs and the drumming. Even with that being said, the vocals are extremely well done. This man sounds a lot like Varg Vikernes in the early Burzum days. His voice is extremely high-pitched and what he does probably can't even be considered a scream. It's more like a high-pitched howl of agony or pain. There's plenty of emotion in this guy's voice and he executes it extremely well into the music. Like I mentioned though, you have really sit down and listen to the album closely to hear his voice at all because it's buried beneath the wall of sound that the guitars give off.
Well, if you're anything like me, you might not think this is 4.5 worthy on the first few listens you give it. My advice to you would be to give it time and let it sink in. If you do that then you'll most definitely see why this album is getting a lot of attention around here. Try this, put this album on right before you're about to fall asleep and see what the atmosphere does for you then. Believe me, that's one hell of an experience in itself and will make you appreciate this album so much more, since it really is all about the atmosphere. Plus, it's not overbearing with only two tracks adding up to about 25 minutes. So definitely give this a try if you're a fan of any kind of black metal.