Banquet Of Ashes
posted on 5/2008 By:
If you can wait fourteen years for four songs and an outro, then it couldn't possibly have killed you to wait a few more months for it to be reviewed here.
Okay, so that's a little exaggerative. Norway's Antares Predator spent a few of those first years under the name Wolf 327, but that still leaves ten whole years of AP and all I get is four songs?!?! I caught a Myspace blog that described this Banquet of Ashes MCD as a collection of demos recorded in bedrooms, basements, etc., between the years of 2001 through 2006. I call that "scraps". I wouldn't call it a "collection". If I sent someone out to "collect" anything and they came back with only this, I'd be slightly disappointed, but there is a very tiny bit of gold here, buried, so I'll cool down a bit and try to explain. To start, the father and sole architect of AP is one Warach, who is now an ex-member of a certain Keep of Kalessin. The revolving door that is this outfit has had in its circle other ex-Kalessin members as well. So this is a pretty razor-edged affair not far removed from that Kalessin style; not immediate family, but that unkempt and frazzled little cousin you look forward to seeing at holidays and funerals. Nineteen minutes and thirty-nine seconds of resilient blackened death thrash. One third of an hour is rarely enough, but let's see what this glass is half full of. A play-by-play in the sport of war:
"Erosion of Eternity" = Tinny, glacial guitar chords meshed with staccato styled speed-picked black-thrashing enforced by blast-beats, with breakneck thirty-second note double-kick verses right around the corner, all the while sprinkled with subdued synth work. Nice touch. The best in terms of production and songwriting (IMHO), so I'm making an educated guess that this is the most recently written and recorded of these five tracks. This is by far the one track that makes their upcoming full length a highly anticipated affair. This right here is combat.
"As Dragons Roam The Sky" = Song intro: Is this a demon baby screaming? Can't tell what the fuck it is, but put some points on the board for a sound rarely heard. What's apparent now is the ultra supreme tight relationship between the rhythm section and the guitars. It's a trait that is AP's common denominator and it is totally winning me over. The vocal approach is DM un-inspired, but these guys' chops are so in the pocket that I can overlook this and the sudo-generic songwriting, and hone in on the plethora of double-kicking taking place, again. Straight ahead, punches pulled but no tricks up their sleeves, majority mid-tempo, lightly frost-bitten, heavily menacing. It's kind of a BM/DM kids-meal, but can they Super-Size it? I fucking hope so. They're on to something here.
"Sacrament" = This one must've come from the older basement sessions portion of this dwarfed discography. This is the first noticeable drop in production values, and a stumble in the writing department. This one's kind of a snoozer. Four minutes of various factory-pressed frosty BM riffs trudging along at a snail's pace with no surprise attack. It's a build-up to nothing. One positive point: when AP uses keyboards, they use them very little and tastefully placed, good to know that this other element probably won't ruin the upcoming long-player. Whew.
"Midnight Wolf" = Picking up the pace, slightly, with another one from the vaults. This one has dust and cobwebs on it too. These last two haven't aged so well when you put them up against the new flesh that set this whole affair off. This is fury on a low-flame again. It bores at several seconds in.
"Outro" = An electric guitar set to its clean channel plays pretty for you. Pretty like what a man wearing dark make-up would think is pretty, not pretty like what your mom would think is pretty. Standard issue melancholy. It's about two-and-a-half minutes long and not really necessary, unless you're scraping the bottom for something, anything.
So in closing, this is worth little time and little money. Clocking in at under twenty minutes and hopefully costing only a fistful of quarters means that, yes, it's officially quality over quantity, and officially worth it, even if it does tend to trail off toward the end. Remember that this track listing most likely works in reverse chronological order, and that everybody starts out shaking off their rust in the bedrooms and basements of the world. With that in mind, Banquet of Ashes is sure to set salivary glands on high for a proper introduction to come sometime in the near future. They also have a kickass logo. I'm sharpening my teeth.
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