Review Summary: This is absolution.
Ashbringer continue to expand on their soundscapes of black metal, diversifying the sounds found in the debut, Vacant
and solidified within Yūgen
is the lampooning masterstroke that still manages to tease out the potential of this once solo project into generous offering of hybridized black metal. Absolution
is the type of atmospheric black metal that appeals to a wider audience, namely in the fact that Ashbringer’s latest is detached from the norms of what the genre has offered, combining [in] parts of Agalloch, Alcest, Wolves In The Throne Room and Deafheaven. In this, the band’s sound manages to appeal to any number of niche landscapes within the black metal pool and lean on some really accessible and well executed ideas
is just as colourful as the cover suggests. Hues of green meld into semi-psychedelia that keeps its foundation of sound squarely footed in the acts mentioned above. It’s both a casual sensual listen and one that doesn’t forget the subtle shades of grey or the cold-snapped black metal stereotypes. In a similar vein to the band’s previous outings, Ashbringer continue a sense of lush musical transcendence that appeals to the enticing combinations of organic, wilderness focused music and a palette of dynamic cleans to overbear the harsher noises the genre is known for. It’s in this manner that Absolution
’s title track starts the new album. Welcoming acoustics wrap around organic snare play as subtle melody becomes less so creating ample melancholy and hopeful atmosphere. But it’s the album’s focus on compositional dexterity which really carries the listener on this seventy minute journey of sweeping black metal aesthetic. “Eternal Separation Pt. 1” and its counterpart reinforce this lush landscape of musical sureness and help present Absolution
’s distinctly stronger second half. The slightly more upbeat passages found in “Pt. 1” are juxtaposed with the near ambient wanderings of “Pt. 2”. A sixteen minute (both tracks together) rite of passage full of heavy sections, gorgeous keyboard sections and verdant leads. Ashbringer bring beauty with artistic flair spare.
There’s something completely rustic and not altogether polished about Ashbringer’s approach to Absolution
’s versatile landscape. The high end tremolo guitar melodies occasionally dip into tinny nuance, the drums don’t always land where the listener would expect and Nick Strangers warbly black metal scream sits just on the edge of raw. One could say that Absolution
is deliberately scabrous and is wholly more fecund because of it. The sum of all Absolution
’s parts are deliberate, yet organic in their approach. Despite each track being longer than seven minutes (with“Dreamscape” coming in just over ten minutes) none of these tracks drag, preventing any base level of lethargic notion washing over the end result of this seventy (plus) minute record. Instead, the effect is rather inviting, living off the melodies that sit next to (rather than on top of) the album’s harsher moments. With Absolution
, Ashbringer cement themselves as quiet achievers in the field of forlorn sounding black metal. Whether it be the enchanting rhythms found in “Wilderness Walk” or the wholesome simple positivity that floats throughout “Threshold Of Existence” there should be something here to appease many a black metal fan.