Ash Borer - Ash Borer
Pesanta Urfolk
Black Metal
3 songs (39:45)
Release year: 2011
Ash Borer, Pesanta Urfolk
Reviewed by Charles
Album of the month
This is Ash Borer’s first full-length, but those of you who have either been following my USBM reviews, or who have simply been paying attention to the USBM scene, will be familiar. The band’s demo from 2009 is well worth tracking down, but it was last year’s split with the awesome Fell Voices that revealed these guys as something really noteworthy. Yes, I know I keep going on about that split, but so would you, dear reader, if you’d bothered to take my advice and listened to it. Anyway, the split itself was breathtaking, but whilst Fell Voices’s side spun away into droning cosmic raptures, Ash Borer’s contribution kept the release firmly grounded in the earthy lineage of the second wave bands, particularly Darkthrone. Indeed, whilst Ash Borer owe a small amount to cult American acts like Weakling, their style is actually based predominantly on ravenous blasting torn savagely from Transylvanian Hunger, with a howling, desolate sense of melody to match.

The overwhelming strength of the album lies in the sheer wailing fury that lashes at its every note. Songs are like lengthy expanses (the three tracks here last twelve, eight and twenty minutes) of barren but beautiful terrain. Ash Borer’s distinctive blasting eschews the buzzing nausea of many black metal acts and instead positively booms forth in a cacophony of splashing cymbals and unhappy harmonies. Their riffing suggests the tortured wail of a dying beast; an insistent, harrowing din with all the complexity of a bucket of icy water in the face. Each of the tracks here veer tempestuously between these violent passages and hazy quiet sections; dolorous clean picking that glistens with the ugly omnipresence of screeching feedback, and which function perfectly as suspenseful interludes between the wrathful outpourings.

I shall now be uncharacteristically abrupt and leave you to discover highlights for yourselves. Suffice to say that the anguished melodies of In the Midst of Life, We Are Death give me chills, and the second half (i.e. the last track My Curse Was Raised…) is a draining journey through repeated swells into depthless fury alternating with washed-out subsidence. Because of the song lengths it’s not an easy album to grasp immediately. Moreover the vocals are often a faded and distant spectre behind the instruments, thus adding to the overall obliqueness of it. But with repeated listens the cyclical peaks and troughs that Ash Borer move through give the record a shape and a rhythm that render its abstract and laconic character easier to relate to. There can be little doubt that this is one of the year’s top black metal albums from one of America’s finest bands.

Killing Songs :
Charles quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Ash Borer that we have reviewed:
Ash Borer - Cold Of Ages reviewed by Neill and quoted 90 / 100
Ash Borer - Bloodlands reviewed by Charles and quoted no quote
Ash Borer - Demo 2009 reviewed by Charles and quoted no quote
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