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Ashes of Life - Seasons Within Award winner

Ashes of Life
Seasons Within
by Justin "Witty City' Wittenmeier at 19 April 2020, 4:05 AM

ASHES OF LIFE is a Gothic/Doom band from Lisbon, Portugal.  “Seasons Within,” is their debut album and it also features Stefan Nordstrom (SOLILOQUIUM, among others) on harsh vocals/growls. But just calling them Gothic/Doom wouldn’t completely describe the sound presented on this album.  Don’t misunderstand—this is definitely a Doom album through and through, but Post-Meta/Rock is also incorporated.  I found the inclusion of these elements to be a breath of fresh air for Doom and it gives the band a unique sound.  Doom, including its many subgenres, is my favorite type of music but even I can admit that it can be hard to find something truly unique.  So even if I didn’t like this album, I’d still give it high marks for actually stepping outside the box. But no worries because I enjoyed the hell out of this release.

The lush, slow build up that both Doom and Post are known for work perfectly together.   I always find that Post-anything easily conjures up images in my mind—and that happens a lot on this album.  I seriously doubt anyone would accuse Post of being a genre on the happy side of the fence (for the most part) but its buildups often are more tranquil and laid back compared to something like Doom.

The first track, “Shores,” is the perfect example of what I’m talking about—and what the album itself is trying to say.  The nearly eleven-minute track opens with the crashing of waves and laid-back clean guitar.  I can’t say it is a happy experience per say but it is somewhat more calm than what I usually find in Doom and not quite as foreboding as my experiences in Post.  This scene goes on for over two and a half minutes, but it is a journey unto itself and worth the wait for the rest of the song to kick in soon after.  A blanket of heavy riffs, melodic leads, and potent drumming come along for the ride—as do Silva’s excellent cleans. About halfway through, Stefan’s growls make their presence known with a deep, throaty grow.

The next track, “Spiral Down,” is the shortest song at just over four minutes in length.  However, it is quality not quantity that matters. Silva’s vocals performance is gentle but draws in as the vocal point anyway, such is his control.  The riffs are Doom filled with some more ambient/Post notes backing them most of the way for a tasty combo.  The solo forms flawlessly from the song jut as the heavier ending part comes out of that solo flawlessly too—the whole song just has an impeccable, even flow.

Burn,” is an instrumental track but the music speaks for itself without the need for vocals.  Like small embers slowly getting started on their path of eventual destruction, the song begins with quiet flickers, not yet fully grown to dangerous heights yet. The song goes from quiet to heavy moments throughout, like a fire making its way through an area that doesn’t quite have what it needs to feed the flame’s hunger.  Eventually, the song grows like a flame and is unstoppable for some time but, like all things must do, it calms and meets a quiet end.

Autumn Days,” contains, at times, some of the most immediate moments on the album.  After a short moment of peace, the death growls send the song exploding into a frenzy of Death/Doom from which there is no escape.  Cleans vocals come afterwards for what might appear to be a stark contrast but I hear it as another side of the same coin—just as immediate and effective but with a different approach.  The final few minutes is a hazy day-dream sequence of thumping bass, clean guitar, and clever drumming that ends the song on a more introspective note.

The fifth track, “Tried To Leave,” trades cleans for spoken words.  These words are thought provoking, speaking about how the present time is the only time which matters in relation to how a person lives their life, and work well with the light musical backdrop of piano.  The distortion kicks in and adds to the overall feeling of morbid trepidation that I get from the song.  The last couple minutes of the song are as frantic as they are beautifully horrifying.

The final track, “Dying In The Snow,” is as cold and bleak as the song title would have you believe.  The half the track is lush layers of clean guitars, keys, melodic leads and quiet, whispered vocals.  Several moments seem to offer glimmers of hope but other passages take that hope away completely. Around the five-minute mark, the winter storm hits and drops down the final moments of a person’s life laid out before them.

I was really impressed with this debut and don’t have a lot of negative things to say about it.  It doesn’t feel like it needed one more track and some of the heavier aspects might be better served if they were as layered and adventurous as the Post elements. Still, there is nothing here that isn’t great, and every song is a treasure and its own little story.  Highly recommended.

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

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Shores
2. Spiral Down
3. Burn
4. Autumn Days
5. Tried To Leave
6. Dying In The Snow
Lineup:
Luis Pinto – Guitars
Tiago Silva – Clean Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Programming
Stefan Nordstrom – Harsh Vocals
Record Label: Independent
     


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