Review Summary: Heroes in a half shell.... TURTLE POWER!
The immediate reaction to Ash Borer’s recent outputs may be one of surprise, as the same group who put out those raggedy cassette demos could not possibly the refined band that has skirted with “mainstream success” as of late. With their self-titled debut, the black metal outfit displayed their raw, aggressive tendencies but all wrapped up in smartly written and atmospheric package. Opting for a cleaner all around sound with a more focused energy, last year’s Cold of Ages
showed Ash Borer embracing this spotlight they had found themselves. Drawing some mixed reactions, detractors balked at the glistening production that appeared to signal a loss in what made the band genre darlings. Yet at its core Ash Borer were as much themselves as ever. With Bloodlands
, that sentiment is just as true.
is comprised to two lengthy compositions: “Obilvion’s Spring” and “Dirge/Purgation.” At the outset, Ash Borer begin things in an ominous fashion with an atmospheric intro that sounds rather similar to “Removed Forms.” Soon all hell breaks loose in a flurry of rapid fire drums and tremolo picked guitar, all with that Ash Borer gusto. What becomes readily apparent is how different
this little EP sounds from the rest of their discography. While not entirely harkening back to their rawest days, Bloodlands
is a much more abrasive affair than the band’s last outing. It’s a bold statement towards those who declared Cold of Ages
to be a step in the wrong direction, yet everything that made that album such a success was kept. Both pieces sound incredible, finding a happy medium between everything the band has done up to this point. They complement each other nicely; two grand movements that practice subtlety and ambience as well as cathartic aggression. While not a lot has changed in between releases, Ash Borer have done enough tinkering with the established formula to present some of the best work of their career. The selections here are tight and concise, but each entrance thanks to the band’s ability to weave so many different sounds together and make feel natural.
If anything, Bloodlands
is a signal that Ash Borer are still finding their place amongst the black metal ranks. While the formula here is a bit reused (ambient intro, chaotic middle, atmospheric outro), it’s hard to complain when it is done so expertly. Thanks to some smart songwriting and sublime production techniques, this EP stands as some of the best material the California act has crafted to date.