So, after a busy days work, I come home tired and depressed, and what is there waiting for me? Only my most anticipated album of the year, which doesn’t even come out until July. Christmas has truly come.
First of all I want to express how stunning the record looks itself: designed by Stephen O’Malley, responsible for other beautiful records such as the previous Haino / Ambarchi / O’Rourke power trio releases, it cannot be enjoyed fully from just pictures. The artwork itself is something to be admired, but then just the little things like the layout of the track titles on the back, and the “なぞらない” (Nazoranai) glossed transparently on the front cover (invisible from the picture) just shows the effort he has gone to make the record a special entity.
From the start the listener gets the feel of the incredible musicianship and their ability to really play off each other, the first track builds and builds, but remains suitable calm for its entirety. Throughout it there is the overwhelming understanding of quiet and tranquility, and completely contrasted with Haino‘s screeched and wails, but works perfectly. The mastering on this seems to me to have stepped up from the previous “power trio” releases, and the substitution of O’Malley stepping in for O’Rourke is a vast improvement in my opinion – although I really enjoy the LP’s he features playing bass on, O’Malley really is a master of this style, this maybe because it is alot more audible but he does a fantastic job. Because of him the whole record is so much more heavier, and he really brings it – most notable in the second track, where the bass plays this really doom-metal oriented riff alongside the drums and it just makes me think “YES, this is what this trio needed”.
Haino’s guitar playing remains the same, with harsh and discordant sections making the rhythm section really sink into its groove, and grind perfectly abrasively by giving order through destruction, as it really sounds like he is laying waste to his guitar. It’s hard to believe that the whole performance is improvised, of course there are free sections and similar tell-tale signs, but the tracks themselves stand together incredibly strongly. Definitely the most prominent thing during the performance is the synchronization between O’Malley and Ambarchi: Keiji in all of his releases keeps to doing his own thing (although he does a superb job of inter-locking it with the other musicians) but here the connection among the rhythm section is just remarkable. I would honestly recommend this album to anyone who plays a musical instrument, as it demonstrates perfectly the great ability of playing “as one” with various different people as this LP is a prime example by all accounts. Another thing that they bring to the table in this release is the harmonized vocals, I might be wrong but I can’t recall any on previous releases, used on the final track. These are one of the many things that make this record superior to any previous effort, as they pile up mystical sounds and atmosphere to the picture that they have already created in the over-an-hour set. Unintelligible but fascinating, with post-rock-esque guitar work by Haino in the finale – really simple and unusually clean for him, and eerie. The final track really is something else.
This LP is already one of my favorites of the year so far – instantly grabbing, interesting for any musician, and pushing the boundaries of the power trio even further forward. Nazoranai officially comes out on July 2nd, on Ideologic Organ (a sub-label of Editions Mego, owned by Stephen O’Malley himself), and I cannot recommend picking up a copy enough, especially as it will sell-out fast and you might receive it early like I did – http://editionsmego.com/release/SOMA009
In celebration of receiving my copy of the Test Press of their 2009 Demo, i’m just going to do a post reviewing and showing pictures and sharing lossless copies of Ash Borer’s discography. They are one of my favorite bands in the last couple of years, playing raw cascadian black metal in the same vein as Wolves in the Throne Room but grittier, and the first item of my collection I purchased was a second edition cassette of their 2009 demo, limited to 100 on red cassette. Their demo is really powerful in its production, sounding akin to Paysage d’Hiver, which conjures up a bleak and desolate picture of their music, but (unlike Paysage d’Hiver) it has really memorable riffs and the melodies that they produce work really well in connecting with the screams and howls of the vocals. The demo itself is comprised of 2 tracks (both of which are repeated on each side of the cassette), and progress through serene passages, making the contrast between the heavy distortion and pounding drums even greater, and these sections build extremely effectively (reminiscent of Godspeed You! Black Emperor). One of the best modern day black metal demos, which grasps immediately with stunning riffs and well thought out progression.
The next item is one that I covet on CS, which is now impossible to hunt down, but I do own it on the 1st Edition Press from Gilead Media (which is a great label, and just repressed Krallice – S/T which I strongly recommend picking up), and that is their 2010 Split with Fell Voices (I am not going to really discuss Fell Voices, as I do not own all their material, but I will say that their side on this split is superb). On this the production is a bit cleaner, but only the slightest amount, and continues from where the demo left off: one 23-minute long track, again full of changes and spectacular riffs, but this time with alot more progression within the riffs themselves, as they are more drawn out. This is great, as it gives the vocals and drums more room to act in, with the double bass giving out a deep rumble and the great expanse of vocals correlate with what the guitars are doing at any given time. Tremolo picking on full and slower guitars mixed in as well, which as well display the vast surroundings in their sound, and more crescendos and blast beats but I feel that their side of the split is just the logical follow on from their demo, but the increase in length gives it a more interesting span with various different ideas that Ash Borer experiment with throughout.
The next piece is their 2011 S/T album, which I also got from Gilead Media, and managed to get the extra limited version. This is another step forward for the band, and again sees them going even more extreme in pace, both faster and slower, than their previous efforts. This band are just made of riffs and it gets slightly annoying at how good they are in comparison to the genre as a whole, not many bands get close to what Ash Borer create and everything that they have ever put out has been stellar. The drums on this LP show that they have been been produced slightly better, with alot more punch and distinction between the hits, as before they had a tendency to blend together, which has its pros and cons, whereas this new production makes the sound heavier.
Lastly, the very reason I wrote this all up is to show my new prized possession – my copy of the 2009 Demo Test Press, of which only 10 were available, and I happen to have #2. Its alternate cover is one of the most bad-ass things covers I have ever seen, and is far superior to the standard edition:
So the moral of this post is – check out Ash Borer, one of the very best bands in the USBM scene at the moment and all of their material is worth listening to, ill even share the 2010 rehearsal CD-r here.
To stop links being taken down, follow and message me on twitter for passwords, all the files are lossless except for the rehearsal CD-r. Enjoy.
Finally, “The Money Store” leaked. Definitely as good as, if not better than, Exmilitary – “Hacker” is probably one of the best songs they have ever recorded. Might do a proper review of this after a couple more listens, but enjoy it before the link gets taken down 🙂