Some time back yours truly was looking into doing a feature on the UK Death Metal scene after discovering Blasphemer in all their glory. This turn of events and the people I spoke to along the way then led me down the path to the mighty Pemphigoid, Repulsive Vision, Foul Body Autopsy, All Consumed, and many many more top notch UK based Metal bands, and boy what a journey it has been. I have always had a huge interest in the English scene, having grown up listening to bands like Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Benediction, the sorely missed Bolt Thrower and all time fave Decomposed, all sheer class to this very day, but little did I realise how much of a scene was still thriving, an interconnected network of great people playing massive tunes that are keeping the dream alive, and along the way the name Ashen Crown would pop up, and I would look for their stuff, and unfortunately there was nothing to be had in terms of an album. They did release a demo in 2017 called “Fall of Thine Eyes”, but could I find a copy? That’s a no, obviously.
An EP was promised, but never eventuated due to things going slightly askew personnel wise, but when the ship was righted so to speak, the guys decided to just go for broke and record a full length, and now it is upon us, and what a fucking monster it is. “Obsolescence” is the title, but let me assure you, there is nothing at all obsolete about the music these four English lads have delivered, not by a long shot. Strictly speaking, we shall just call them Metal, you could even say Extreme if you so wish for a tag, but they are not that easily pigeonholed, so Metal it will be for mine, and may a thousand fleas fester your armpits if you wish to argue the point.
For whom the bell tolls you may well ask as the album begins, a sound well ingrained into the collective minds of all Metalheads as you will no doubt attest, but their will be no Metallica or AC/DC riffs to follow, oh no, instead Ashen Crown usher us into their world with an almost Doom like intro, that then proceeds into some mid paced thuggery. The dulcet tones of lead singer Kieran Scott bringing forth mental reminders of a certain Randall J Blythe in moments, mind you old Randy is having a really bad day and is pissed off to the max about something that dude from Pantera said about his dreadlocks whilst some other dudes are standing at the gates having a good chuckle. You will get my drift in the end, trust me, and this is indeed some powerful stuff.
Mike Ellis on the drums, Jay Rogers on lead guitar and Ste Fowkes on the Rhythm, and let’s not forget the rumbling backbone provided by Phil Milman on the bass certainly are masters of their craft. Those double bass kicks driven along with a massive wall of riff fuckery from the string section really get you in the ‘Fuck Me Let’s Get A Massive Cunt Of A Pit Going’ department, Try track three “Ultimatum” and see if you can sit still, I challenge you.
Comparisons will be drawn between Lamb of God, At the Gates, throw in whomsoever you wish, maybe a few of you out there might even think it borders on ‘Core’ of some variety, but it doesn’t, and there are two reasons for that. The first is that this is as fine as LOG got during their “Ashes of the Wake” period, as solid as “At War with Reality” by them gate loving folk, and despite what some of the more stupid buggers out there might like to think, neither band is, or has ever been ‘Core’, they are fucking METAL. This one may seem to be influenced by many a thing, but the biggest one first and foremost is Ashen Crown’s bloody minded intent to just mash together whatever the fuck they like, and make it all bigger, and better. The second reason is that ‘Core’ is a dirty word in my house, unless it’s UK Applecore, so here’s looking at you Acid Reign. Of course they have a different approach to everything, so it is what it is, fucking Metal aye!
“Right to Rise” and “Guilty of Hatred” continue this theme of a swift kick in the rear end and a boot to the throat as you lie bleeding on the floor, while a thousand maniacs cause grievous bodily harm to all around them. Sometimes the pit moves like a whirlwind, other times you get to catch your breath, and you will be sucking them in like there is no tomorrow, you’d better believe it. Anger and intent all bundled up into musical passages that no true Metal fan could resist, right here, right now, right at your fucking throat like a poorly fed mongrel dog that can smell the bacon you just threw up all over the dude next to you in the Slayer shirt.
Speaking of Slayer, track seven, “Blood Beneath” opens up in a very ‘In the opposite direction that place where you God bothering twats think you are going’ kind of way. You will get it, if you are a Slayer fan, and if you are not, then why the fuck are you even reading this! That’s where it ends though, as our ashen friends here then throw in a riff fest that would make Hail of Bullets suddenly just decide to march eastward for no apparent reason, and then top it off with some female vocals the like of which My Dying Bride would seriously wish they could have used on an album or two. Confused? So the fuck am I, the beauty of it is that it all flows seamlessly into something that just makes perfect sense!
As the end approaches, these crown wearing chaps give you one more giant tap in the backside with “Fall of Thine Eyes” (Their demo title just in case you weren’t paying attention), another excuse to take a beating or dish one out in the moshpit of your dreams, before the closer “Under The Leaves” arrives. Everyone hates a bad ending, and here you won’t get one, as this is indeed one of the finest tracks on this release. What you get here is a conglomeration of all that is excellent in UK Metal. Doomish to begin with, then a lovely little gallop through the park followed by a visit to Bolt Throwerville. Yes, if such a place existed, Ashen Crown have found it, as you will hear. When they go flat out, they are great, when they slow things down, they are mesmerising.
These guys could choose a genre, and do damn well in it, but they haven’t. The win is for us, the fans, because we get a little bit of everything awesome rolled up into one giant can of whooparse (or whoop ass for you American types, English, it’s a fucked up language, us Aussies don’t speak it properly apparently). A little bit of everything, served up on the perfect dish of malice, hatred, and a damn good questioning of what what we should leave in the past. Obsolescence is not going to be an issue here, you can be assured.
Rating – 5/5.
Get some into ya!