To Lay Like Old Ashes

Band's List Black Metal Austere (AUS) To Lay Like Old Ashes
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Band Name Austere (AUS)
Album Name To Lay Like Old Ashes
Type Album
Released date 27 February 2009
Music StyleBlack Metal
Members owning this album61

Tracklist

1. Down 01:31
2. To Fade with the Dusk 07:35
3. This Dreadful Emptiness 09:05
4. To Lay Like Old Ashes 09:31
5. Just for a Moment... 06:04
6. Coma II 20:48
Total playing time 54:34

Review @ Satanicarchangel

12 September 2012

The Potential Is Definitely There...

...yet something about this release is a little off. That's not to say that I dislike the music, in fact I find it incredibly emotional and beautiful. Atmospherically Austere are on top form here, taking a more subdued and beautiful approach than that of their debut album. It's got all the makings to become a perfect album yet despite this there's one aspect that continues to bug me no matter how long I listen to it and that is the irritating last track. Ending an album with a long, drawn out instrumental passage is not a bad idea. Ending an album with a long and boring instrumental passage is. What could have been one of the greatest achievements of the depressive black metal world has been hampered rather unfairly of the inclusion of an incredibly taxing and musically void song that takes away all of the atmosphere that Austere had so beautifully crafted.

Austere play a highly distinctive form of depressive black metal, far removed from the suicidal dirges of Hypothermia and Trist. Austere, whilst forging their music out of pure negative emotions explore the range of these feelings in a drastically different form. Instead of harshly distorted, minimalistic chord progressions, Austere play a much "clearer" form. The distortion whilst undoubtedly there is much lighter, giving the music much more room to breathe and lacking the claustrophobic edge that a lot of this music typically exemplifies. The guitars themselves are startingly melodic, and interestingly quite diverse. Whether that's from the hauntingly beautiful, shoegaze inspired melodies of This Dreadful Emptiness to the more classic black metal approach of To Fade With The Dusk. Austere are clearly masters of their craft, showing influences from all over the black metal spectrum.

Vocally, Austere present some of the most distinctive vocals I've heard within the genre. Vocal duties, handled by two vocalists, range from a Burzum inspired shriek, a more agonized hollow wailing and soothing clean vocals. The use of clean vocals is really what sets this apart, most bands within the genre usually only utilize harsh vocals with the occasional spoken word interludes. Clean vocals are rare within this form of music, clean vocals that are actually any good are even rarer. The clean vocals on here aren't the most metal I've ever heard, but they do there job incredibly well. They're quite light and airy. bringing to mind recollections of Neige from Alcest fame. They carry the emotions incredibly well, in particular the section in This Dreadful Emptiness is imbued with a subdued beauty that is sorely missing within the scene.

Lyrically, Austere are a cut above the rest. Dealing with topics such as heart break, melancholy and other typical subjects, Austere manage to inject new life into these often over used topics by writing with a sense of poetic grandiosity that is far removed from the self pitying rambles of many bands infecting the scene. Mixed in with the heart breaking clean vocals and the incredibly evocative shrieks the overall delivery comes off as incredibly lyrical, even poetic in its delivery.

Yet. whilst Austere are able to craft memorable and distinctive pieces of highly emotional black metal, the last track destroys the powerful atmosphere that the band has so finely crafted. The last track, comprised solely of a droning guitar adds nothing to the melancholic atmosphere that Austere are so majestically able to craft. I really wish they would have left this track out as the incongruity of it when mixed with the rest of the music results this album finishing on a head scratcher, rather than a sense that this album has come to its closure. This creates the image that this album is not complete, rather the last track seems to hint as to more could have come out of this band, yet their unfortunate break up seems to say otherwise. Whilst To Lay Like Old Ashes clearly contains examples of some incredible music, the overall ending impression is one that is broken and not fully whole. It's a rather odd ending note as it leaves me desperately begging for more, yet I live with the unfortunate knowledge that my need will never be satisfied. To Lay Like Old Ashes remains only as a very good depressive black metal album that is unfortunately never pushed into masterpiece status that it so desperately deserves. There is definitely a masterpiece of black metal within this album, yet the broken nature of it prevents me from seeing it as such.

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Crinn - 12 September 2012: I would slpit that big paragraph into several. I LOVE this album, although i dont think of Coma II as a bad thing
Satanicarchangel - 13 September 2012: Hearing the same riff for about 20 minutes just doesn't do it for me lol
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