Written by Alex
- Black Metal
- February 29, 2020
For anyone who knows me, you know that I love black metal and most of its subgenres. Asarhaddon fall into the melodic black metal category, which just happens to probably be my favorite. With bands like Actros, Abigail Williams and Wormwitch releasing some of my favorite records of last year, this side of black metal has been getting a lot of love from me recently. I believe this is the band’s first full length and it’s my first encounter with them as well. I must say it’s an overall positive first impression, this record is solid. I’ve been listening to it for a few weeks now and it’s only grown on me in that time.
Let’s start with what I think is the most important aspect of a good black metal record; atmosphere. The sound of this album is undeniably and genuinely cold but there is also this feeling of brightness as well. Referencing Abigail Williams again, this record feels quite similar in terms of emotion and atmosphere to their last record. This isn’t the type of album to weigh you down with its aggression and malice while listening to it. None of the genres usually abrasiveness is on display here. It makes for a listening experience that you don’t often get in black metal unless it’s of the atmospheric kind. What I’ve noticed more and more while listening to this record is how it has the same feeling of an atmospheric black metal album but none of the synth or atmospheric elements being used to achieve that end. With the exception of the end of the last track, this record is nothing by guitars, bass, and drums. I think a big part of how they achieved this is through their strategic use of stripped down, almost soft sounding, guitar passages.
There’s a really interesting juxtaposition between the instrumentals and the vocals of this record. While the production on the instrumentals is very clean sounding, the vocals have a rough and gritty quality to them. The vocal approach is almost entirely in the mid toned range throughout but this slight fuzziness that seems to encompass the vocals keeps the music as a whole from sounding too over produced. The mixing has been done well for the most part so every element does seem to sit well together. They also seem to have taken special care into how they procured the track listing. The songs, as a whole, are excellently timed with tempo changes that make each song flow connecting to the next. It feels like the band were thinking of how each song would flow with the others and made sure to pay attention to it. It makes the album seem like a complete story or idea as opposed to just a bunch of songs slapped on an album.
I only have a few small issues with the record. First is to do with the drums. There are some sections, not many but some, where the bass drums have that clicky sound to it and also parts where the cymbals sit a little too far up in the mix and sound a little grating. Apart from that though, this is a good record. Asarhaddon seem to be comfortable in this no-frills approach, using catchy riffs and good songwriting to keep you listening. I suppose you could say that perhaps this album feels like the band took a safe and inside the box approach but I don’t find that to be a bad thing sometimes. Especially if it’s your debut album and you’re still trying to cement your sound.
This the type of record that I could put on and relax while listening. There isn’t anything overly technical or philosophical to where you have to think about what you’re listening to. Sometimes it’s nice to have something that is straightforward and easy to understand. It’s a solid and enjoyable record from start to finish that definitely worth its runtime.