The Irrepassable Gate by Ash BorerRelease date: December 2, 2016
Label: Profound Lore Records
Do you ever get one of those records at the most perfect time in your life? Like when you are feeling down, or haven’t really been into any new music for a while, or just yearning for something that can really scratch that itch you have for some really good music? Well this album has done it for me.
Ash Borer has been one of my favorites since I got to see them (for a short bit before I had to leave) at Stella Natura in Lake Tahoe California. Listening to their haunting guitar sounds that shrouded the brisk forest with a dark cacophony of metal really stuck as a good memory for me. It was truly amazing and it’s a sound and scene I will never forget. Another thing that reminds me of Ash Borer is when I visited a local record store, End of an Ear, I noticed they always had a ton of records in Ash Borer’s collection. One time I was flipping through all the records and a guy came in, grabbed ALL the Ash Borer records they had in stock and left in a hurry. Ash Borer to me, is definitely THAT band. They are timeless, unrelenting, whimsical, and they will forever remind me of the forest.
Another affinity for me is being from the West Coast, when you hear their sound, I think of the foggy, cold sea and the chilly redwoods around California. Wolves in the Throne room has that sense to them as well in their sound, but Ash Borer is more of a perfect soundtrack that evokes memories of these places. Their newest creation and third album The Irrepassable Gate definitely does much of the same.
The first song, ‘The Irrepassable Gate’ comes in to play with a huge punch. Setting up for the rest of the album, the unique guitar starts slowly, while the drums come in fast. A different dynamic that really appeals to me as a musician. I like the imbalance of the steady and slow guitar while the rest of the music gets faster and heavier. It provides a dark sound, almost like footsteps. Of course the rasp growling vocals come into play and complete the sound as a whole.
‘Lustration’ and ‘Rotten Firmament’ are some of my other favorite tracks on the album. ‘Lustration’ is a beautiful sound, atmospheric with echo and a deep humming that illuminates the beginning of the track – setting up the scene for a dark and distant place where the music takes you. ‘Rotten Firmament’ is one of the faster tracks, with pounding drums. I’ve always considered Ash Borer’s drummer to be superb and it really shows on this track. The songs are on the longer side on this album (like many atmospheric black metal songs). But the guitars keep up with different segments of the song. Higher pitched licks and many slower break downs with ghouling growls in the background.
All in all, this is a great album. I appreciate the tracks ‘Lustration I’ and the final track ‘Lustration II’, which gives the album the changes it needs. Thoughtful placement as well. Definitely one of my favorite albums of 2016. Maybe even a tie with Predatory Light’s release, whom they share members with and the sound has definitely similarities. I highly recommend checking this album out – especially if you are in a dark headspace or even hiking in a cold, dark forest and looking for a newer (maybe even better) Wolves in the Throne Room atmospheric type band.