Austere - To lay Like Old Ashes
Eisenwald
Black Metal
6 songs (54:41)
Release year: 2009
Official Myspace, Eisenwald
Reviewed by Charles
This is an interesting second release by the Australian band, Austere. The band’s two members seem to have racked up appearances in 13 metal archives-listed bands between them, nearly all black metal, although none that I am familiar with.

To Lay Like Old Ashes reminds me slightly of Fen’s Malediction Fields in the sense that it melds together epic-sounding black metal with post-rocky leanings. It should be said that the black metal elements are a occasionally a little bit more “out there”, than you might expect from that comparison, featuring as they do high-pitched screams that have the unfortunate effect (or fortunate, depending on perspective) of reminding me of Nattram from Silencer.

It must be said that a lot of the elements here don’t really add much to what we’ve already heard from similarly pastoral and expansive black metal bands. Wolves in the Throne Room have the original, proggy edge over them, and others such as Fen are probably a little bit more atmospheric and evocative. This is not to say it is bad, far from it; they do a fairly good job of generating those desolate-sounding expanses of sound that we expect from a band such as this, and at times their more polished sound actually seems a better way of presenting these types of ideas than the more rumbling, rustic delivery of The Malediction Fields. They throw in the odd curveball, as well. The closer, 20 minutes long, is a relentlessly repeating cycle of slow electric guitar chords, making them sound like a simplified black metal version of Earth; interesting but maybe slightly pointless, even if the tonal landscape they conjure up is actually pretty poignant.

The best moments are those at which the clean vocals are allowed to emerge, as in the latter part of This Dreadful Emptiness. This is where the band starts to develop some emotional punch, as simplistic but effective piano phrases start to accentuate the guitar fog. The other strength is the sound of the record. It is big and powerful; more so than we tend to expect with this type of black metal, and that really adds something.

It’s definitely a grower, although you can’t escape the sensation that it’s also something you’ve heard before, and that they aren’t really doing quite enough with the formula. The best way of summing it up is to say that if you are an admirer of the bands namedropped in this review (except for Earth), you will probably enjoy this record, as it is an effective, workmanlike permutation of the same formula. A good effort from a band that is worth keeping an eye on.

Killing Songs :
This Dreadful Emptiness
Charles quoted 71 / 100
Other albums by Austere that we have reviewed:
Austere - Withering Illusions and Desolation reviewed by Jared and quoted 50 / 100
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