Review from Black Phoenix Rising

Posted by Nick Skog on Friday, March 6, 2015 Under: English
From: Black Phoenix Rising
Published: March 5, 2015

The Hourglass, Atten Ash’s debut album was originally recorded back in 2012 and has only recently been released on Hypnotic Dirge Records. A three piece band from North Carolina, their brand of atmospheric death / doom metal should sit them in good company with HDR, and with Barre Gambling of Daylight Dies as one of the three members alongside Archie Hunt and founder James Greene we should certainly be expecting quality from them too.

Quality is precisely what we get, with their debut album Atten Ash have presented us with an incredibly rich and melodic release, filled with great atmospheres, solid musicianship and songwriting and a clean and crisp production that allows every aspect of the sound to be showcased to maximum effect. This has everything you’d ever want from a death / doom album and more besides, the emphasis here is primarily on atmosphere and melody and it seems Atten Ash have no shortage of tools to achieve this with. Powerful and dramatic guitar melodies envelop you right from the off on opening track ‘City In The Sea’, the growled vocals adding a harsher edge but contrasting well with clean vocals which we hear throughout this album, particularly in the later songs. There’s a great melodic solo towards the end, and once again great contrast between the calmer segment which follows and the explosive conclusion. Track two, ‘See you..Never’ starts at a slower pace and once again we hear evocative melodies which build up with a sense of drama and purpose into a fairly straightforward but no less effective midsection, and another impressive solo follows to take us to the close of the song.

Next we have ‘Not As Others Were’, with lyrics adapted from the Edgar Allen Poe poem ‘Alone’, which happens to be one I really like and seems to be a source of inspiration for a few bands as I’ve heard this from at least three, possibly four bands now. Clean vocals are more prevalent here and the song moves along at a fairly rapid pace, musically perhaps a little simpler and perhaps not as potent as some of the other tracks on here despite the lyrical themes, yet still has some great moments and still shows Atten Ash capable of constructing powerful and emotional music which fits well with the theme of the song. Following this we have ‘Song For The Dead’ which is a longer and intensely powerful and haunting song showcasing some of the finest vocal moments on the album. We’ve seen to this point already just how adept Atten Ash are in terms of composition, this takes it up a notch with some stellar songwriting and powerful performances from the whole band, it’s one where you’d even be satisfied if the band closed the album here and finished on an incredible high but of course there’s still a few aces up their sleeves.

‘Born’ comes after, beginning with slow and mournful melodies backing up the harsh growls then leading into a more subdued and intricate section, this is followed by an incredibly powerful vocal performance with the melodies and the mid paced riffs backing this up extremely well, it provides one of the more breathtaking moments on The Hourglass before mellowing out into a much more chilled, almost ambient segment. Yet again we see the contrast and dynamics used to great effect, this continues as the song leads out, more powerful clean vocals offsetting the growls as the guitars continue to weave their magic. This continues in ‘First Day’, with a brief instrumental opening leading into more strong cleanly sung vocals, the clean vocals are used for the entirety of this song and the overall vibe is one not too dissimilar to Katatonia’s ‘Discouraged Ones’ album, it works pretty well anyway and is another high point of ‘The Hourglass’. 

Coming to the end of the album we have ‘Waves Of Siloam’, raising the intensity somewhat, the guitars have a heavier and darker tone on this one while still retaining the melody and overall feel that runs through the album, while the final song and title track closes the album with a slower and mellower approach. The vocals have a much softer tone while the guitars create a haunting and ethereal ambiance which works well in conjunction with the vocals. There’s a few heavier riffs interspersed throughout and moments where the song lifts into dramatic peaks, and as the final parts 

In summary this is an exceptionally good album which, while not pushing the boundaries of the death / doom genre too much it works within those boundaries to deliver one of the best albums of this style I've heard in a long time and showcases a band on top of their game even on their debut album. The emphasis is on evocative melodies, rich musical textures and atmospheric soundscapes and it displays those with astounding success, it's an outstanding work, vibrant, powerful and emotional and shows just how such things can be achieved with this style of metal music. Chances are if you’re reading this you’ll already be familiar with the genre or know if this sort of style is something you enjoy so all I can say is that if you have any liking at all for music of this nature The Hourglass is essential listening and Atten Ash are a band you need to keep your eye on. 

Rating: 9/10
Reviewed by: Demoniac

In : English 

Tags: atten ash  the hourglass  atmospheric doom metal  melodic doom metal  death-doom metal  daylight dies  slumber  katatonia  woccon 

  Released: February 19, 2015
500 Copies
Genre: Melodic Death-Doom Metal