Lamentations of the Ashen is one of my very favorite bands. Some might think that it’s just simply because they’re from the depressive black metal (DBM) genre, but that would be wrong. Out of the many DBM artists that I’ve discovered over the past year and a half, Lamentations of the Ashen has always stuck out to me. This band was actually one of the first ones that I got when I really started getting into the DBM world; some of the others being Saol, Woods of Desolation, Austere, Gris, and Blutklinge. Although this wasn’t the first record I heard by Lamentations of the Ashen, this has always been my favorite by far by this band; even after the masterpiece that was just released.
Of course, like most of the DBM bands out there, there is only one person behind all the music. Just writing each part for each instrument on each song is hard enough by itself, the task of writing all that and having the outcome be the definition of depressive beauty is seemingly impossible. But time and time again I am proved wrong. There is NOTHING that Lamentations of the Ashen has put out that is less than flawless. Probably a huge part of why listening to this guy’s music is so enjoyable is the production work. The sound of the guitars and how everything is balanced out but still has a very ambient and droning sound is really something that this album couldn’t be without. Although most people might think that DBM is completely raw, it’s actually not. Even these guys add some distortion to their vocals to give them a fuzzier sound, they edit the sound of the guitars to make them sound more to their liking (sometimes cleaner, sometimes crunchier and heavier), and they turn down the volume of the drum tracks, and so on. So the production work that was done on this record makes everything clear and audible while still having that “raw” black metal sound.
Another reason why Lamentations of the Ashen is much easier to enjoy is because the vocals are top-notch. Believe me, there are A LOT of HORRIBLE black metal vocalists out there; so many that it saddens me just thinking about it. This guy is one of the best in the ENTIRE black metal genre (ok that might be a SLIGHT overstatement). Good enough to easily be compared with Burzum, Xasthur, Naglfar, and Gris.
One big reason why DBM is so underground is because there are so many artists from that area that play the same riff over and over for ten minutes without changing the song at all. I will admit that there are songs by some of my personal favorites like Lost Inside, Xasthur, and Forgotten Land that tend to get over repetitive. Here’s when I make exceptions: when the riff is interesting and engaging, and when there is change going on in the background (with the “repetitive” line still front and center). Lamentations of the Ashen have shown some signs of unnecessary repetition unfortunately, but it’s nowhere to be found in this album. But that depends on how much repetition it takes for it to start bothering you. For those of you that HATE repetition in music, skip the first track because the drums stick out a little too much and are pretty repetitive (but not enough to bother me in the slightest bit).
The song that I would HIGHLY recommend that you look up first is the second track, A Memoire of Departure. This song starts out with breathtakingly beautiful keyboard melodies that took me by surprise to then drag you into a tunnel of DEEP emotion that contains both solitude and peace. Plus, all the instruments are perfectly balanced out and the production is pristine. When this song ends almost 20 minutes later, I’ve never been able to resist starting the song over instead of listening to the rest of the record. This is an album that I would give a perfect score and would recommend to all black metal/depressive black metal/WHATEVER fans that haven’t already heard it.