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Ashenspire - Hostile Architecture CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.11 | 27 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars More new progressive music this year. Honestly I feel like all in all this year has been a great year for Prog rock, heck I could even say it may rival some years from the 70s like 1973 or 1975. We're heading into a familiar yet a tad different territory. In a land filled with King Crimsons and black midis, the more weird and experimental side of Prog is one where everything feels like a rollercoaster of mayhem, but never once did any of those bands have a sort of album that was a lot heavier to the point where they become Avant garde metal music. I have talked about metal bands that are weirder than usual before, but never stuff like this where they go for a really jazzy and experimental approach.

Ashenspire is a newer band that sprouted up in 2015 with the single, Mariners at Perdition's Lighthouse. Their origin is pretty unknown but their music has a ton of themes to cruelties of the world, much like the last band I reviewed not long ago that also released an album this year. Kinda funny how I am reviewing two metal albums that came this year that both have similar themes. This album has been getting a tiny bit of buzz lately so I was interested to see what it was like. To be honest, it's pretty great.

So the album begins with the song The Law of Asbestos. It starts with this slow climb until it bursts out into frantic riffs and drumming, backed up by a saxophone in the back. This song really is just pure insanity. Every which way you turn you just get weird and crazy music. As someone who loves this style of music, I quickly became comfortable in my seat. The blaring horns mixed with the intense yet smooth drumming really sets this off as such a good opener. Plus those vocals are so great for this kind of music. They sound so smooth and so rich with energy yet they sound so deranged that it throws your head into a spin. This is a really amazing opener for this album.

The album does not let up with the equally frantic song of Béton Brut. We still have that chaotic Avant Garde metal sound, but everything feels a lot harsher. Never once does this song stop to break, which leads into a small issue I have with this album. It never really stops and tries to have a song or a small bit that is a little less deranged. To me the appeal of this style of music is the chaos, but also the calm after it all happens. Another album that released this year, Hellfire by black midi, had moments of calm and collective music that while sometimes sparse, can allow you to breathe and let the music soak you in. Here, while really great, sort of bash your head against a brick wall without at least giving you some kind of a helmet. That's my only really noticeable gripe with this album. This song is great, definitely a good lead after the first.

In the next chapter of this album's song list is Plattenbau Persephone Praxis. This is where we get a little more of that jazzy stuff that this band has been using a lot in tandem with their metal structure. The saxophone really drives home this song a ton. It is always there, and it adds so much personality to the music. I am a firm believer that more metal bands should add horns, specifically saxophones, to their music and this is the reason why. It adds charm in their gritty and harsh music that was already dripping in personality already. It is so good, probably one of the best songs from this album.

Now I sort of lied when I said there was no moment on this album that has a quieter and more relaxed moment, but that was only because I forgot this song existed. How The Might Have Vision is one of those small in between tracks that is a lot different than the rest of the work found so it becomes forgettable, yet you still sort of like it. It is more of an operatic and less metal piece that shows a bit of the band's classical influence. It is still highly Avant Garde in nature but definitely toned down. It definitely can be used as a breather so thumbs up for that. I like it, just a tiny bit forgettable.

We get right back into the insanity with Tragic Heroin. I really like how this song feels like an actual roller coaster at times. It feels like the song rises for a little bit then falls super fast and then rises up again to fall back down in crashing, hell vomiting insanity. This song is so fun to listen to. It feels so chaotic that really there is no human emotion to really put into it. It's not angry, scared, disgusted, it's more or less it's own thing somehow, and I guess that is really this whole album. It feels like a human emotion that doesn't exist and it's something that we cannot seem to fathom. It's honestly spectacular.

We get a bit more slower but still intense stuff with Apathy as Asenic Lethargy as Lead. The saxes take a back seat on this one in favor of the guitar and vocals. You can definitely feel a lot of rawness in their sound by stripping the more jazz side of the equation and showing off their sweet playing skills or their vocal harmonies. It really allows the band to stretch a bit in other fields. It's honestly great to hear some of what the band can truly accomplish with this piece of music, especially when they strip down a bit. It shows how much they are truly professionals in their craft.

Again with stripping down a bit with Palimpsest. This time the vocals are removed from the equation, and it still sounds really good. It gives a bit more of a math rock jam vibe in this song with the clear focus on the drumming. You can hear all the weird time signatures being strung around this album like Christmas lights at your neighbor's house even though it is August and they should probably remove them, it's been like 3 years, stop having Christmas lights up, they don't even work anymore. It feels so energetic yet still controlled, it's a controlled chaos that really seeps into your ears and it is one that makes me sit comfortably.

The last song is the longest here, being 9 minutes. I swear this is the second time I reviewed a metal album that has a song that is 9 minutes in length and is the finale to the album. This song, Cable Street Again, really shows the band at their most energetic. It twists and turns all around to create such a brilliant finale as it crescendos into a brilliant and harsh cacophony of sound. It reminds me of the first time I heard the ending of 21st Century Schizoid Man by King Crimson. It ends so chaotically that your mind cannot process it all. Also that part in the song where there is basically nothing other than small hints of feedback as the vocals just sweep through in such an exhausted yet smooth tone is so good. This song is everything this album has to offer. It is such a great song to close off this great album.

This album is just fantastic. Sure it may be a little much at times and it isn't for everyone, but really this just sets in stone on how right this sound truly is. Now I will say at times I feel like this album tries a little too hard, and that it really can be a little headache inducing if you are not in the right mindset or mood for this album. For that reason I will not say this album is a masterpiece, but man is it close to being one. It just shows how good this album truly is. Highly recommend checking it out if you like this more Avant Garde and intense jazzy Prog rock music like I do.

Dapper~Blueberries | 4/5 |


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