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Ashen Horde – Fallen Cathedrals

Ashen Horde
Fallen Cathedrals
by Erika Kuenstler at 04 March 2019, 4:02 PM

This year sees American Progressive Black/Death metallers ASHEN HORDE unleash their third full-length album “Fallen Cathedrals” on the world, due for release on the 22nd of March. Budding out of what was initially a one-man project started by Trevor Portz, ASHEN HORDE has bloomed into a maelstrom-like duo with the addition of Stevie Boiser. Centring on dystopian ideas, the album “Fallen Cathedrals” describes class warfare and the darker side of what humanity can become.  This album sees ASHEN HORDE carry on further in their exploration of the more melodic side of their music, being their first opus to contain clean vocals. Indeed, “Fallen Cathedrals” is also the first full-length album to not feature Trevor on vocals, with these duties being handed over to Stevie. And Stevie does a brilliant job, lending the music his dynamic range that adds multiple facets to each song, from whispered horrors to shrieking screams, from guttural growls to gravelly rasped Black Metal vocals.

Starting off with a vicious, frantic, and ferocious fray of “Parity Lost”, ASHEN HORDE show that although this album is to be more melodious than previous works, their sound has lost none of its savage, ravaging feeling. The song does have a fragmented, jumbled sound to it, rife with changes in tempo and melody, which will certainly not be to everyone’s liking, but which sets the standard for the rest of the album. “Retaliation/Regret” sees the album take a darker and more malicious turn whilst quirky and odd guitar work on “The Vanishing” give the song a more light-hearted and playful air. However, whilst the rapid changes in style often give the album a fresh and interesting air, this formula doesn’t always seem to work to ASHEN HORDE’s advantage, with some songs like “Cages” having a stilted, forced Frankenstein-like feel to it, an assemblage of parts that does not coalesce into a flowing whole. This song in particular plods along like a wooden chimera, mere fluff forced into existence as filler material.  Whilst “Final Ascent” also misses the lustre of songs found earlier in “Fallen Cathedrals”, this is made up for by “Face of the Enmity”, a song that really showcases the flair and potential of ASHEN HORDE. Closer “Primal” carries on in this vein, ending the album off with a bang.

Melding in influences stemming predominantly from Black and Death metal, “Fallen Cathedrals” is tempered by more melodic parts. Searing solos add a splash of emotion, whilst the more technical parts showcase Trevor’s musicianship. Changes in tempo keep the album fresh and interesting, whilst a whole slew of influences from a wide range of music genres flow into the album. Overall, the album is a complete amalgamation of different styles, from clean vocals that sound like they’re fresh out of one of the nineties Rock bands, to the bluesy bass lines to Death Metal growls to experimental riffs. There is no denying that “Fallen Cathedrals” is a bold album, refusing to be pinned down by the shackles of any genre definitions. It is dark, with a cold and intangible beauty that cannot be captured. This will likely lead to the album garnering very polar opinions: you will either love it or hate it. But either way, it's worth a listen.

Song-writing: 8
Originality: 7
Memorability: 6
Production: 8


3 Star Rating

1. Parity Lost
2. Profound Darkness
3. Retaliation/Regret
4. The Vanishing
5. Atavism
6. Cages
7. Final Ascent
8. Face of the Enmity
9. Primal
Trevor Portz - Instruments
Stevie Boiser - Vocals
Record Label: Rockshots Records


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