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Ashen Horde - Antimony Award winner

Ashen Horde
Antimony
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 15 January 2023, 11:29 PM

ASHEN HORDE is a progressive black/death metal band from Hollywood that formed in 2013.  “Antimony” is their fourth full length album; they have also released seven EPs. The pedigree within the band is of the utmost quality—members of ABHORIA, INFERI, EQUIPOISE, and NORSE play on this album and they definitely keep the same high quality work they are known for throughout the album’s nine track, fifty one minute run time.

Whatever album I happen to be reviewing at the time of writing a review is usually my most played album—obviously I have to give an album multiple listens to fully absorb it. But long after I listened enough to form coherent thoughts to put onto the page, “Antimony” remains my most played album this year so far. The band’s brand of extreme metal is a varied one with a lot of dynamics.  The clean vocals give the album a modern sound and might help people not used to this style ease into it more.  Musically, the band is definitely built upon a blackened base but strong death metal elements give it a robust sound that adds much meat to the bones.  Progressive and tech elements are also abound, which adds even more depth and flavor to this already full course.  With that being said, the album doesn’t feel overly bloated although some of the songs could probably stand to shave off some time here and there.  The myriad of styles and influences flows exceptionally well so each song comes off as adventurous and forward thinking instead of disjointed and aimless.

The band really knew how to build the track list and place the songs–each one feels like it is meant to be exactly where it should be upon arrival..  Extra praise must be given for the intro track, “Summoning.”  Most intros are pointless fluff that add nothing to the proceedings but “Summoning,” is exactly how one should be done:  short and to the point while introducing the album by building proper momentum to the first full length song. That song is “The Throes of Agony,” and it is a straight up barn burner of a track.  It begins almost immediately after the intro fades into it. Furious blackened vocals and drums push the song through, so intense that the music is near to bursting with energy. As time passes, that fury bursts through, highlighted by tight rhythm and well placed solos.

"The Consort '' is up next with its brief clean beginning that is blown away by a vicious yet catchy vocal attack as the music pummels and crackles underneath.  Clean vocals bridge the gap between a more extreme style but the dual delivery works well enough. Never one to rest, the band keeps the momentum going until the very last second. The music slows down for about a minute for the opening movement of "The Courtesan." I like this approach and it also makes the faster moments afterwards feel that much more urgent. After the halfway mark, a strong bridge held up by a great clean vocal passage changes the feel of the song but in a fantastic way.

The album only gets better as it goes—the last few tracks are especially strong.  “The Disciple” builds up strong and rides high—the low growls are a highlight as they alternate with the black screams.  The rhythmic assault of bass and drums never lets the song falter as the guitars work their way through a myriad of styles including a progressive solo. The final track, “Animus Nocendi,” caps it all off with one of the best songs on the album, if not the best.  This song exemplifies everything that is great about the album:  heavy enough for extreme fans, smart enough for prog lovers, and dynamic enough to keep any type of lover of metal engaged.  From its dissonant touches, to the ripping undercurrent of double bass, and all the way back to the blistering guitar work.

It is always a danger for an album to come out so early in the year only to get lost in a sea of seemingly nonstop releases.  ASHEN HORDE’s “Antimony” will have no problem keeping its head above water as the year goes by.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Summoning
2. The Throes of Agony
3. The Consort
4. The Barrister
5. The Physician
6. The Courtesan
7. The Disciple
8. The Neophyte
9. Animus Nocendi
10.Knives       
Lineup:
Trevor - Guitars, clean vocals
Stevie  - Harsh vocals
Robin  - Drums
Igor  - Bass
Record Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
     


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Edited 04 February 2023
 

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