ASH BORER, Ash Borer (2011, Psychic Violence)
All kinds of “hipster alert” sirens going off right now in my office. First, the occult-looking skull, the design of which could be a Death in June or Brighter Death Now image, co-opted by some California atmospheric black metal band. And the fact that it’s shaped like a cassette. And, indeed, it was released on cassette. My concerns far outweigh any impact the actual skull is having right now. But what about him? This guy looks glassy and carbon-black, and the storm a-ragin’ behind him is nothing like the storm in my mind, knowing I might be having to grapple with yet another bearded clan of hipsters who I could never, ever relate to. Let’s see about that…
Three songs, nearly 40 minutes. Okay, you can already see where this is going. Think Krallice. I’m thinking Krallice, anyway. Which is not the worst thing to think, if I’m honest with myself. The opening track, “In the Midst of Life, We are in Death,” has an ominous dose o’ doom running through its center. Then blazing black metal busts down the gates of doom and lets rip. It’s fine. It’s even fairly authentic. But it gets real dull, real fast. And ditto on the other two tracks. Scathing, blazing, full-tilt madness when it’s not moving extremely slowly, this is competent and boring. It feels like background music much of the time. And black metal of any kind should never feel like background music. In fact, I don’t even believe in background music. So I guess I don’t believe in Ash Borer, even though I know they exist.
— Friar Wagner