Ashes Of Angels
posted on 3/2010 By:
Those of you who follow the French black metal scene with any sort of dedication might raise an eyebrow of interest with a new project MkM is involved in, and with good reason. The constantly working Antaeus vocalist has let his creative filth flow and mesh with the talents of multi-instrumentalist Bestial Satanic T (Aborted, VI, Garwall) in this pure and resoundingly modern project, Aosoth. With shades of English, Norwegian, and homeland influences firmly in place, Ashes Of Angels is an often nasty display of cultured black metal that flexes quite a bit of metal muscle along with a positively razor-sharp delivery.
While we frequently hear plenty of black metal awash in atmosphere with the riffs being the glue that holds everything together, in the case of Aosoth, the riffs are the most prevalent and noticeable facet of the songwriting, even though there may be a great deal of atmosphere to behold. If anything, the strength of the riffs is what makes this such a robust and headbanging affair, as the title track practically challenges you not to move your head during its almost mosh worthy first half before deftly alternating the pace between a tempo akin to ripping thrash, and then back again to those big, lurching rhythms. It’s when “Path Of Twisted Light” opens with a cleaner guitar that repeats and builds with a thick layer of dirt gradually rising to the surface that the disc fully begins to reveal its layers, throwing in healthy doses of Deathspell Omega and slower, brooding Frost (UK), whom they stylistically remind me of quite a bit at times. That's not a bad thing.
Unlike Deathspell Omega, Aosoth never really goes for the psychosis, instead retaining a strong sense of forward focus, comprehensive dynamics, and grounded weight. It’s a heavy son of a bitch for a black metal album that doesn’t delve into a ton of bruising chords or bottom-end thunder. “Embrace And Enlightenment” is a compact pounder of a tune that trudges along and makes for a great counterpart to the double-bass dominated following track “Teaching/Erasing”, but as one of the longer and slower songs, “Cries Out Of Heaven” tends to sort of chug along under MkM’s raspy snarl with very little consequence.
The lethargy doesn’t last long, because soon after “Communion Through the Rain” craftily shows of some subtly intricate rhythm guitar and ends with odd voices and sound effects, the proper concluding track, “Banished” begins with a flurry, takes a step back to gather strength for a minute or so, and then opens up with lashing, savage Emperor-esque “The Source Of Icon E” styled chaos, and an absolutely feral vocal expulsion. The inclusion of an Antaeus cover of “Inner War” from the Cut Your Flesh And Worship Satan album is a nice addition for longtime fans, but I found it to be rather unnecessary and not quite up to snuff with the Aosoth material. Still, you better believe it didn’t lessen any impact, because nothing on this album is lame.
This was a really nice surprise, and it’s made me realize once again just how plentiful and productive our current underground metal scene is worldwide. Ashes Of Angels features some thoroughly appetizing structure, great production, and a simply badass performance by MkM that never overshadows BST’s sly precision, making this collaboration one of the more compelling overflow albums from 2009 I’ve heard in this rather laid-back year so far. Slick, but definitely not shiny or smooth.
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