Here it is! Extremist Views’ inaugural album review! I couldn’t thinkof any particular album to go with that would fit such a horrifically delightful occasion, so I just thought I’d write about the last thing I listened to front to back. And in this case that happens to be the latest offering from USBM necromancers, Ash Borer! Their latest release, The Irrepassable Gate, which was let loose on December 2nd of 2016 on Profound Lore Records, is a formidable monument of cyclopean black metal mastercraft.
The album’s cover art (a hauntingly beautiful piece that really helps to evoke the feel of the overall album) is a great way to visualize the opening image in this infernal epic that Ash Borer construct with their sound. The very first song on the LP, baring the album’s title, starts off slow and steady, sounding like a melancholy march of dead spirits in chains as they are led through the (Irrepassable) gate that will bring them to their eternal place of unrest and agony. The vocals are dirty and wretched, typical for the genre but, even so, they succeed in further adding to the hopelessness of the song. Then, BOOM! Just when you thought you were comfortably in step with the pace of the song, your footing suddenly falls away from under you and we descend into a flurry of blast beats and dissonant guitars that, together, uncannily evoke the feeling of free fall into the hellish depths.
From then on, each song on the album is as cinematic and captivating as it is heavy. Nearly every song on the record is a monster clocking in at around ten minutes each, with the exception of the two-parter, Lustration, which offers some respite from the cold fire onslaught. But even in those moments where you can catch your breath, there remains the unyielding veil of woe that overshadows the album. For you have passed through the gate, and there is no turning back, no return to be had.
The musicianship on the record really shines in regards to the guitar work. I find a lot of black metal… or metal in general, really, to be boring as shit because bands don’t instill feeling and personality into their sound. Individualism is critical to making music, I feel. Otherwise it all becomes a drone of sonic vomit, and not the good kind. Enter, Ash Borer, who have found a way to really make their guitars speak volumes through their playing. Razor sharp strings cut through the wall of sound to wail like the shades of the damned, and while the music is certainly evil and horrific, this style of playing actually ads a strange beauty to it all, and instills it with a tinge of tragedy. The drums are good…not groundbreaking but also certainly not bad. You got your blast beats…awe yeeeah, and you have those slower sections that stray into the doomier side of things. I’ve heard it before, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like it. Thankfully, what Ash Borer might lack in some respects, they make up for in variety. The band keeps you on your toes, going from blistering maelstroms of sonic fury, to the harrowingly slow crawls across barren ashen (hehehe) landscapes. One thing I did LOVE about the drums, though, is the production. The sound is raw and real sounding, just like it should be. Very rarely do I really like a metal release with overdone drum sounds. It just makes the music seem more tangible to me…whatever that means. Point is, it sounds fucking hot as Hell, which is exactly where The Irrepassable Gate takes you!
Art of any kind aims to affect the viewer emotionally in some way, and I really think that Ash Borer have crafted an overall epic that not only hits all the hallmarks of an awesome epic black metal sound, but also relates to other feelings not commonly spoken to in the genre. At times I was feeling amped up and full of adrenaline, while during others I felt pity… for whom, I don’t know, but the music was able to conjure up these feelings inside of me and I absolutely love it.
Definitely give Ash Borer a listen! Here’s a link or two!