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Aklash – Horizon

Aklash
Horizon
by Gary Hernandez at 07 August 2021, 2:59 PM

AKLASH is a Black Metal outfit out of Reading, UK. On June 4, 2021, they released their third full-length album, simply named “Horizon.” It is an Atmospheric work, heavily rendered with synths, violin, and choral vocals. If you are familiar with previous AKLASH albums, “Horizon” is a significant departure—the trajectory is evident in hindsight, but it may not be what fans expected. With that said, I should note this is a very good album . . . it’s just different from previous releases.

Maybe related, maybe not, shortly after the release of the album, co-founder Daniel Scrivener left the band. Statements from Scrivener make it clear that his departure was for all the right reasons—artistic growth, etc.—and that the change was made amicably. As a fan, it’s hard to appreciate the dynamics that go into bands. It’s always a bit baffling to fathom why bands can’t just get along or why our favorite groups can’t stay together for perpetuity producing the music we want to hear and putting things like musical and personal growth to the side. It is good to see, however, that these splits can happen without negativity, so best wishes to all parties.

Let’s start off with the album cover because I think it helps to set the tone: A massive eye set against a backdrop of celestial bodies, stark black and white with splashes of indigo blue in the iris and in an orb upon which the eye gazes. In the foreground is a tree or waves articulated in sharp angles and straight lines. Drawing it all together is a triangle which captures the orb and centers the entire picture. The picture is either in the sky or in the ocean or both or neither. It suggests meditation, introspection, reflection, cosmic truth, and depth. While it feels cold, it is not touched with cosmic horror nor indifference. This is much more personal and transcendent. And then you hearken to the album title, “Horizon,” and the song titles—e.g., “Darkness Unfolds,” “A Dialogue of Earth and Sea,” “Transcend,” “Journey’s End”—and it starts to make a type of sense. Listening to the album, of course, brings it all together.

I will reiterate that this is an Atmospheric album with no riffs, no guitar solos, no harsh vocals. Clearly this will be a turn off for a lot of metal fans and, as the album theme intimates, will require listeners to adjust their perspective. I’m not going to give a track-by-track breakdown of this album or even discuss standout tracks or regrets. This isn’t that type of album. I will say that while the first track, “Darkness Unfolds,” exudes a slight sense of foreboding, that quickly gives way to expansive explorations of space and sound. It is neither optimistic nor dark. It just is. Again, like the album cover, it doesn’t give itself away with a wide palate of colors, rather it gives you a black and white slate upon which you can fill in your own visions. The only thing that is colored in is that which gazes and that which is gazed upon. The rest is yours. Musically, the same essence is presented.

I can’t think of a better way for AKLASH to end this stage of their journey. It is also a suitable send off for Scrivener. “Horizon” positions them for an inflection point and poses the big question—What’s on the horizon? At this pivot point so much is possible. It is refreshing to see a band take such an intriguing step, especially considering that it comes with some risk. Hopefully it proves worth taking. As for the album, it is certainly worth the listen.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1.  Darkness Unfolds
2.  A Dialogue of Earth and Sea
3.  Horizon
4.  Souls Depart
5.  The Celestial Plains
6.  Transcend
7.  Journey's End
Lineup:
N. Millar – Vocals, violin
C. Kendall – Bass
Daniel Scrivener – Vocals, guitars, synths, percussion
Tiffany Sauvage – Alto vocals
Lydia Williams – Soprano vocals
Record Label: Independent
     


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Edited 16 October 2021
 

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