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Ashenspire Hostile Architecture album cover
4.11 | 27 ratings | 6 reviews | 26% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2022

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Law of Asbestos (8:31)
2. Béton Brut (5:18)
3. Plattenbau Persephone Praxis (6:45)
4. How the Mighty Have Vision (2:40)
5. Tragic Heroin (3:15)
6. Apathy as Arsenic Lethargy as Lead (4:53)
7. Palimpsest (3:05)
8. Cable Street Again (9:31)

Total Time 43:58

Line-up / Musicians

- Alasdair Dunn / voice, drums
- Fraser Gordon / guitars, voice
- James Johnson / violin, voice
- Matthew Johnson / saxophone, voice

- Ben Brown / bass
- Scott McLean / Rhodes, prepared piano
- Rylan Gleave / tenor & bass voices
- Amaya López-Carromero / soprano & alto voices
- Otrebor / hammered dulcimer

Thanks to CassandraLeo for the addition
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ASHENSPIRE Hostile Architecture ratings distribution

(27 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ASHENSPIRE Hostile Architecture reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Dapper~Blueberries
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.

Review by siLLy puPPy
3 stars The avant-garde metal band ASHENSPIRE first hit the scene in the Scottish capital city Glasgow in 2013 and five years later released its debut "Speak Not Of The Laudanum Quandary" in 2017. The band stuck out like a sore thumb in the world of extreme metal with a bizarre mix of black metal guitar gallops, a lugubrious string-quartet violin presence, some sizzling saxophone squeaking and the most uncharacteristic attribute of all, an unhinged vocal narration that sounded more like a madman on a rant rather than any proper singer in the world of metal. As much anarcho-punk as jazz-metal, the debut tackled the multi-century exploitation and brutality of the British Empire across the planet and with a less than subtle declarative decree, ASHENSPIRE was on the scene.

Skip ahead five years and the band is back with its second offering of hostility titled HOSTILE ARCHITECTURE all dressed for a riot in its favorite chimeric mix of black metal, gypsy / chamber swing, soul jazz and madman poetry only this time the band has been getting more than its share of attention for its acrid societal critique of the collapsing social order. Basically HOSTILE ARCHITECTURE is a manic report of the failures of the New World Order and the elite power structures that have crafted the pyramid system of control that propels them to the lap of luxury at the expense of the masses which now find themselves in utter decay as they increasingly live in squalor with fetid infrastructure and inequality ubiquitous.

This is an album that's gotten a lot of coverage in 2022 for its unorthodox mix of black metal savagery pacified by a melodic sax and violin dueling stabilizing force. Sounding like he escaped the insane asylum and forgot his meds, drummer / lead vocalist Alasdair Dunn delivers all his scathing societal reviews like an adrenalized protester with steadfast supplications of remedy while the thundering force of a black metal freight train finds the rampaging post-metal processions decorated by sultry cyclical sax squawking and ear-piercing ostinato violin grooves haunting the depressive anxious dissonant protest.

Musically, this band reminds me a lot of Norway's Shining with its depressive disso-black metal joined by a jazzified form of brutal prog only with the extra touches of a chamber rock violin performance. All in all the music is quite impressive with with lyrics that evoke the pungent explosive pluckiness not heard since Crass haunted the UK with its angsty art punk in the early 1980s. While the musical procession is quite unique to ASHENSPIRE, the album tends to run on the same high octane fuel for its duration with the exception of the intermezzo interstitial interrupting "How The Mighty Have Vision" which recalls the bizarre style of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum which also made ample use of violins in an avant-metal context.

This is an album i really want to love because it has everything that i love about a creative passionate modern day metal band that is setting the world on fire however as flexibie and far-reaching as my musical insatiability is, there are still a few stylistic approaches that totally rub me the wrong way and therefore i find myself on an opposite spin from my music loving contemporaries in the world. Musically this is spot on in about every way from the frenetic syncopation of the guitar, bass and drums to the lenifying efficacy of the violin and sax combo and the morbid mix of it all. What really keeps me from hella lovin' ASHENSPIRE simply boils down to the vocal style. I just can't get into spoken word musical performances with the exception of some sort of frantic weirdness in the vein of Captain Beefheart who recited his beat poetry like a mutant reject of the Montauk Project.

On the one hand the half-spoken, half-sung lyrics do allow the lyrics to be understood which is not the case in the vast majority of growly voiced extreme metal these days however for a lead vocalist to pull this off convincingly, the said singer must shave some sort of above average charisma or stylistic approach that adds to the one / two punch of the musical performances. That is how i find this album completely lopsided. For those who can tolerate the vocals, you will absolutely love this one. Excellent lyrical content, outstanding musical content. For me it's like eating a delicious cinnamon roll with raisins in it. I hate raisins :(

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5 stars Certain albums click with me immediately. Some of them I wind up absolutely loving, like Moura's self-titled or Papangu's Holoceno. Others fall from my graces fairly quickly, like Hand. Cannot. Erase. or Devin Townsend's Deconstruction. Yet other releases, meanwhile, take a while to sink in. Even if ... (read more)

Report this review (#2904593) | Posted by TheEliteExtremophile | Tuesday, April 4, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album hits home hard. The sound is gritty and nasty and so are the lyrics. Alasdair Dunn is angry and desperate, so he screams his words at you. Having said this, I haven't heard many albums so relevant as this one. Thematically, it is close to Pink Floyd's Animals and Rage Against the Machi ... (read more)

Report this review (#2879685) | Posted by WJA-K | Wednesday, February 1, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 18th January: Ashenspire - Hostile Architecture (avant-garde progressive metal, 2022) Last year, I wrote a bit about Countless Skies' Glow with the discussion point about the acceptability of plagiarism and overt influence. At what point does it become too much? Is borrowing ideas irrelevant wh ... (read more)

Report this review (#2876597) | Posted by Gallifrey | Thursday, January 19, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Ashenspire's Speak Not of the Laudanum Quandary slipped under my radar for two years after its release, but I was suitably impressed when I finally heard it and wrote, "I foresee great things from these guys in the future." So naturally, when the band announced Hostile Architecture, my expectations ... (read more)

Report this review (#2778507) | Posted by CassandraLeo | Thursday, July 21, 2022 | Review Permanlink

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