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A Place For Ash

United States Country of Origin: United States

A Place For Ash
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Buy on: Bandcamp
Type: Full-Length
Release Date: September 9th, 2022
Label: Independent
Genre: Black
1. Penance
2. Throes Of Ardent Disposition
3. Effigies Adorned In Fire
4. Synchromysticism
5. The Beast That Mourned At The Heart Of The Mountain

Review by Nathan on October 6, 2022.

For whatever reason, I haven't been as high on black metal this year. Most of my highest-ranked picks for these lists have been in the tech and dissodeath realms (Carrion Vael, Inanna, Immolation, Soreption, etc) - and even then, the albums I was keen on (Nechochwen and Silhouette) I have been keen on were higher in the lists because they were released in months that didn't have as many standouts. Anyways, if for whatever reason I was falling out of favor with black metal, A Place For Ash aggressively grabbed me by the collar and dragged me right back into its depths.

I've seen this get a bit of flak (mostly in Angry Metal Guy) for being too blast-heavy and not capitalizing on the band's obvious potential…but my question is, what exactly would replace that? You're basically saying to cut out the meat of this band completely, or just change entirely what they're meant to sound like. Maybe it's because I don't hear this in the context of their previous album as much (I know of it, and know it's good, I'm just not super familiar with it), so I don't see a band dialing back elements that made them good before, I just see a group that has gotten more comfortable writing songs together channeling their disparate influences into a powerful, compelling stream of black metal. It's repetitious, with incredible stamina from drummer Justin Valletta sustaining a spirited blast groove for nearly three minutes at a time, but the way the band shifts the feel of the tempo while still maintaining the groove is hypnotic, adding texture and variety without removing the stark, uncompromising atmosphere. All three guitarists contribute vocals at different times, each adding their own distinct, shrieky cadence to the ordeal.

I don't know exactly why, but A Place For Ash has a different lasting effect than most black metal I hear today. It's hard to make any sort of second-wave comparisons to this, as parallels to groups like Wolves In The Throne Room and Oathbreaker makes much more sense - this is thoroughly modern in that way, but they kept the songwriting tendencies from the 90s albums that made them lasting listens. Incredible stuff that had me dancing in my kitchen while I did the dishes multiple times over.

Rating: 9 out of 10