Ash Borer
Tour Rehearsal Demo


4.0
excellent

Review

by Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration USER (56 Reviews)
January 11th, 2011 | 13 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: ...in which Ash Borer create concise and to-the-point atmospheric black metal of the highest quality.

Cascadian black metal bands really seem to enjoy releasing obscure demos. This is to some degree an understandable aspect of their character, as other than Wolves In the Throne Room and a select few others most of the scene's bands are not even signed signed to a label, making it difficult for them to release more than hard-to-obtain, relatively brief demos. However, a few bands such as Fell Voices, Sleepwalker, and, of course, Ash Borer, have taken this to a whole new level. Instead of just self-titled demos, they release albums called "2010 Tour CD-R," with song titles such as "Untitled" or "II" and track durations of 10-20 minutes. It's honestly a bit ridiculous. Ash Borer's contribution to this pool of random obscure demos, their oh-so-creatively titled Tour Rehearsal Demo might look, at first glance, to be just another merely passable collection of overlong and pretentious untitled tracks, but it is, in fact, one of the best of the pack.

The first thing to note while going into this little record is that it is very different that Ash Borer's past work, namely in that the vocalist who contributed his talents to their 2009 Demo and their split with Fell Voices is completely absent. Now, before you go running to your copy of Two Hunters for comfort, hear me out for a minute. First of all, the demo lasts only 18 minutes, with its two untitled tracks clocking in at about eight and ten minutes respectively. These may not be short tracks, but they're much more concise than, say, anything Fell Voices have ever written (nothing against them). And honest to God, they actually manage to hold your attention the whole way through. Ash Borer do not waste time with long, boring sections of ambiance, preferring to, when it is called for, keep their music subdued rather than completely event-less. This means that the "atmospheric" part of "atmospheric black metal" is not crafted using potentially dull electronics or stupid nature samples: it's all made with natural, soaring, and beautiful tremolo-picked guitar riffs and tasteful yet subdued bass lines.

While the presence of a vocalist might have, in some ways, been beneficial to the demo, it is perfectly cohesive and engaging even with its lack thereof. Instead, the listener's attention is drawn to different aspects of Ash Borer's sound: the reverb and delay-soaked guitar parts, the masterful drumming, and the excellent production. The production strikes a wonderful balance between being overdone and trying to be kvlt: it sounds like it was recorded by a band on a low budget, but the tasteful amount of roughness in the music only adds to the songs, never detracting from the listener's experience with excessive abrasiveness. Also, the music itself is not minimalistic. It is repetitive at times (as bands of similar qualities tend to be), but Ash Borer know how to play their instruments and they show it. The drumming is especially impressive, and the group doesn't shy away from barraging the listener with double bass when called for.

With this demo one of Cascadia's most promising black metal bands has given us yet another reason to expect great things from them. Instead of going the all-too-easy route of creating 20 minute-plus epics centered around useless nature samples and annoying acoustic guitars they have managed to take a style known for overstaying its welcome with needless indulgence and turn it into some of the most concise and engaging ambient metal out there. They have proven that a black metal band doesn't need to live in a hand-built cabin deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest and record their music with a webcam mic in the forest at midnight to create beautiful, peaceful metal: all that is needed is tangible instrumental proficiency, a strong songwriting ability, and a sense of when to go all-out and when to pull back. Here's to the future of Cascadian black metal: may it live a long and prosperous life, devoid of stupid nature sampling.



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user ratings (32)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
wyankeif1337
January 12th 2011


6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

please comment and criticize, i had a bit of trouble writing this.

Hawks
January 12th 2011


35838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Really good review man. This is an awesome demo. I would've liked the vocalist to have been present since I don't like too much instrumental only stuff, but I really enjoyed this.

einlazer
January 12th 2011


15 Comments


good review, i like how gay you are

Irving
Staff Reviewer
January 12th 2011


7318 Comments


Solid review wyankief; I haven't got much time to spare but I'll make this quick comment:

The first thing to note while going into this is that it's very different that Ash Borer's past work, namely in that the vocalist who displayed his talent on their 2009 Demo and their split with Fell Voices is completely absent.

There are several things which I would suggest for this sentence. The first is to replace the first "that" with "than" (small typo); the next would be to substitute the first "this is" with something else, because the initial part of the sentence appears to be running the gamut of "is"es, if that makes any sense?

Also, be wary of what I like to call "breakdowns" (because you break the sentences into separate, usually unnecessary clauses); such as:

Yes: this is, in fact, instrumental atmospheric black metal.

And
This is not, I repeat, not as boring as it sounds.

They add nothing to the review, and actually make for some stilted reading. I have to make a run now, but this review was solid (aside from some minor niggling bits). Read it to yourself in your head and you might be able to uncover a few other (very minor) things worth changing. Cheers!

Digging: Portishead - Dummy

kount
January 12th 2011


1279 Comments


lol

wyankeif1337
January 12th 2011


6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

thanks Irving. and i also recognize that this is far from my best.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
January 12th 2011


10617 Comments


Not your best man, but an enjoyable read nonetheless!

MoosechriS
January 12th 2011


5052 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cool review bro. Love this band does anyone else think that this ep demo sounds like isis playing black metal? Was listening to it going to work the other morning and kept thinking of panopticon. Maybe its just me :-s

Tyrael
January 12th 2011


20945 Comments


I am totally in love with this thanks to Hawks.

Digging: Azealia Banks - Broke With Expensive Taste

Crisis
January 12th 2011


169 Comments


Their demo is a lot better IMO, but this is still worthwhile.

Hawks
January 12th 2011


35838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I am totally in love with this thanks to Hawks.

And this isn't even the demo I was telling you to get! Lol just get all their stuff. It's all great.

kount
January 12th 2011


1279 Comments


Lol ya wrong demo dude!

Hawks
December 11th 2011


35838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I love everything this band has put out with a passion.



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