Ash Borer
Ash Borer


4.5
superb

Review

by Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration USER (56 Reviews)
March 27th, 2011 | 679 replies | 36,122 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: With their debut full-length, Ash Borer have banished any remaining doubts into oblivion, cementing themselves as Cascadia’s single most promising black metal act.

9 of 9 thought this review was well written

In the various metal subgenres that begin with "post," "ambient," or "atmospheric," it's all about finding balance between raw metallic qualities and softer, more beautiful atmospheric aspects. A band's success is dictated by this simple fact: too much atmosphere makes your music gimmicky and boring. It becomes just another footnote in a long history of failed attempts at creating atmosphere, and no scene is more subject to this issue than the Cascadian black metal scene. From over-the-top nature hippies such as Skagos to even more over-the-top nature hippies like Alda, the Pacific Northwest is plagued with would-be Wolves In the Throne Room imitators and annoying cabin-dwelling black metal vegans who wouldn't know a good black metal song if it bludgeoned them over the head with an organic, eco-friendly tree limb. This is where Ash Borer comes in. This northern Californian four-piece have, since their formation in 2008, crafted quite a name for themselves in the underground community. Although they have only released two demos and a split with fellow Cascadian act Fell Voices (which was met with huge acclaim upon its release), they have already established themselves as one of the region's most promising up-and-coming acts.

Whatever doubts may have remained about the band's output are silenced completely by Ash Borer. Released on a 150-copy run of cassette tapes, Ash Borer's debut full-length is not destined to broaden the band's fan base by any tangible amount. This is quite unfortunate because Ash Borer is, to put it quite bluntly, some of the most inspired and engaging black metal to come out of Cascadia since Wolves In the Throne Room's landmark album Two Hunters. Ash Borer can no longer be labeled simply as another atmospheric black metal act, because their self-titled completely transcends this meager label. Through its 40 minutes and 3 tracks, this record rips, tears, and blazes its way through depressive black metal, post-rock, doom metal, ambient, and progressive metal, traversing more musical ground in two thirds of an hour than Skagos have throughout their entire decrepit tree-hugging existence. Ash Borer have found that magical sonic equilibrium that so many of their region's fellow acts spend their careers seeking. In the Midst of Life, We Are In Death and My Curse Was Raised In the Darkness Against A Doomsday Silence showcase the group's tasteful sense of atmosphere through a couple of post-rocky mid-song breaks and ambient outros, while Rest, You Are the Lightning (the album's shortest track at 8 minutes) is a fast-paced monstrosity of a riff fest. Also, some listeners may note that this track is a re-recorded version of the first Untitled track off of 2010's Tour Rehearsal Demo with added vocals.

Another wonderfully mesmerizing thing about Ash Borer is its ability to hold the listener's interest throughout its entire duration. Many similar bands would crash and burn if they attempted to write a cohesive 19-minute black metal track, but Ash Borer never fall to this unfortunate trait of the Cascadian scene. This may lie in the group's all-out, balls-to-the-wall approach to their music. Unlike others, Ash Borer, even during their most dreamy and atmospheric moments, never forget the fact that they are a black metal band above all else, and this awareness of their true identity is present in every frantically tremolo-picked guitar line, in every electrifying double-bass passage, and in every tortured shriek. As such, Ash Borer are not afraid to get technical, and once again, that concept of musical equilibrium comes into the band's winning equation for success. This is not indulgent riffage for the sake of riffage a-la-Krallice nor is it repetitive strings of lush chords that sound for all the world like a black-metallized Explosions In the Sky (something that acts like Woods of Desolation fall victim to at times). Ash Borer transfix with dreamy tremolo passages only when called for and they only stun with mind-bending riffs when it is absolutely necessary. Even the most technical riffs are imbued with an underlying sense of beauty and even the softest post-rock passages do not come anywhere near being mind-numbingly simplistic.

From the eerily Rorcal-esque doomy riffs at the beginning of In the Midst of Life, We Are In Death to the moment that the last ambient notes of My Curse Was Raised In the Darkness Against A Doomsday Silence fade into oblivion, Ash Borer have proved themselves quite simply the most impressive up-and-coming atmospheric black metal band out there today. On their self-titled they steer clear of all the ridiculous bull*** that turns other promising acts into sub-par gimmicks and meld influences from a slew of other genres with an uncanny sense of when to stop and when to go to craft an effort that is almost guaranteed to annihilate all contenders for the throne of 2011 atmospheric black metal album of the year (and the year is not even a quarter through). Most importantly, Ash Borer have attained the musical nirvana so desperately sought by their peers and have risen above and beyond all previously set genre conventions. And the best part? They are barely three years old, and judging by the excellence that was hinted at on their previous releases and has finally been fully realized on Ash Borer, the future of the Cascadian scene will be very bright indeed as long as Ash Borer are around. I, for one, hope that this will be for a very long time.



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user ratings (217)
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3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
wyankeif1337
March 27th 2011



6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

this will be my last review for a while. please critique.

album rapes

ButcheredChildren
March 27th 2011



5591 Comments


holy crap solid review, pos

cvlts
March 27th 2011



8954 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nice one bro

vanderb0b
March 27th 2011



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Album is pretty excellent. It's too early for me to settle on a rating, but I doubt that this will be anything under a 4 for me. 2011 is shaping up to be a pretty great year, so far.

wyankeif1337
March 27th 2011



6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

2011 is raping 2010's bitch ass and it's not even a quarter through

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
March 27th 2011



16372 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Listened to this like 5 times but don't really have a good enough opinion to rate yet. Tentatively like a 4 but we'll see how it goes after a few more plays.

Digging: Darkspace - Dark Space III I

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
March 27th 2011



16137 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's pretty good. Not sure I like it better than the first demo yet, though.

wyankeif1337
March 27th 2011



6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

after a good 10 listens or so i can safely say that i prefer this in every conceivable way to the demo (even though it was awesome). there's specifically a notable improvement in the vocal department.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
March 27th 2011



16372 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Not sure I like it better than the first demo yet, though.


This

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
March 27th 2011



16137 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

New Ulver rules. Very challenging record, though.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
March 27th 2011



16372 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah it does, they've really impressed me with it. I think it's a more cohesive record than SotS.

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
March 27th 2011



16137 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I don't know. Shadows is a masterpiece, in my opinion. But still, every song on the new album is like drastically different than the last, but it still manages to flow and be representative of a concept, which I find to be pretty impressive.

zaruyache
March 27th 2011



6393 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

who wouldn't know a good black metal song if it bludgeoned them over the head with an organic, eco-friendly tree limb.


Pos'd. Album SLAYS.

Digging: CHVRCHES - The Bones of What You Believe

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
March 27th 2011



16372 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The flow of it is what makes me like it more than Shadows. I found that to be rather fragmented (but still awesome).

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
March 27th 2011



16137 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I just think the atmosphere and emotion is really strong on that album. War of the Roses has taken me some time to fully get into, but I'm really liking it so far.

Also, review has way too much needless name-dropping.

BallsToTheWall
March 27th 2011



44292 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

WOTR leaked/ WTF

Digging: Tiamat - Clouds

Relinquished
March 27th 2011



24988 Comments


new ulver m/

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
March 27th 2011



16372 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah Balls it rules, get on that shit ASAP

wyankeif1337
March 27th 2011



6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

review has way too much needless name-dropping.


i'll get on that at some point tonight.

Hawks
March 27th 2011



35824 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Heard there was a download link for this so I'll get it tomorrow. Pretty excited to hear it.

Digging: Engraved - Before The Tales



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