The tremendous level of musicianship and creativity within the Polish Black Metal scene has been highlighted several times already. This obviously hasn’t gone unnoticed, with foreign labels such as Terratur Possessions, Northern Heritage and Season of Mist having already released albums by some of the most interesting bands from the scene. A label of similar stature is the native Malignant Voices, a label dedicated to releasing some of the gems the Polish have to offer. One such band is Ashes, a project driven by former Medico Peste guitar player Nefar who plays most instruments and writes all the music. In this project, he is assisted by drummer The Fall (Owls Woods Graves, Eschatology and former Medico Peste) while on the band’s latest album vocals were peformed by Medico Peste vocalist Lazarus.
On ‘Gloom, Ash and Emptiness to the Horizon’ Ashes continues the path set forth on the band’s previous album. Musically, the band performs melancholic Black Metal that often resides at a midtempo. The drums are fittingly free of blasting and rather focus on creative fills to build tension in the tracks. This is further enforced by creative bass lines and double layers of guitar melodies that often are woven together. Riff-wise, this often consists of a more basic background melody and almost Dissection-like melodies on top that build over time. The shrieking vocals top it all off but are used sparsely to allow room for the music to develop. The first two songs on the album are more compact and follow slightly more traditional values, although the creativity and strong melodies make this much more than just a melancholic Black Metal album. But the band truly shines in ‘III’, a slightly longer track with a howling keyboard sound that thickens the gloomy atmospheric fog while a longspun eerie instrumental passage builds hypnotizes the listener. Once again, it’s excelling songwriting and subtle creative additions that make this song a triumph.
Compared to the band’s previous album, not much has changed in terms of atmosphere and style. But Ashes does take a leap in quality when it comes to songwriting, which is far superior on ‘Gloom, Ash and Emptiness to the Horizon’. Those looking for mid-tempo melodic and melancholic Black Metal, you know what to do.