Album: Ritual of Ash
Label: Bitter Loss Records
Release Date: January 13, 2023
Genre: Death Metal
Location: Perth, Australia
Our fearless and intrepid leader at TMW sent this album over using his favorite raven crow feather quill pen dipped in a double-revolving testicle-shaped inkwell. Written were the following instructions: “Listen, understand, and then write something, you bastard! Lest there be bloodshed and carnage” How could one refuse such a simple request?
So, let’s begin with a bit of a history lesson. Ashen is a four-piece death metal organism that crawled out from the depths of Perth, Australia in 2020. All the band members had previously accumulated their metal experience with different bands before coming together to create their own marker of old-school death metal culminating in the formation of Ashen.
After initially releasing the killer five-track EP (Godless Oath, 2021), Ashen has followed up with their first full-length album Ritual of Ash. Will it meet or surpass the initial EP? Will it match the perfect rating given by fellow TMW writers Your Grouchy Friend and The Great Mack in their joint review of Godless Oath? Well, sit the fuck down and see what we see. On with the headphones, up with the volume and here we go.
It appears that I had nothing to fear because, from the get-go, Ritual of Ash rips! It tears at and bludgeons you into a marvelous heap of bloodied human remains. As soon as the opening track, “Ritual,” starts, its heavy, grinding melodies shift the seismic plates from underneath you.
Wanna scare the demons that dwell in the kingdom below? Then “Harbinger” is the track to play. Lyrically it’s very simple, but it delivers its message so strongly. The first verse delivers a clear example:
“As death approaches
Harbinger of the darkness descending”
Now, if your aim is to stop those pesky neighbors from bothering you, then “Gravemind” is the one to play. Once they hear the intense brutality of the screaming that emanates from vocalist Richard Clements, they’ll not only leave you alone but hide their kids away in the basement. I swear, he must rinse and repeat nightly with a combination of funnel web and brown snake venom.
What Ashen has provided are ten tracks of death metal hymns for the inner sanctum of your soul. Where nightmares are created and acted upon – with each track delivering a dark and gloomy picture of the current state of the world. It’s combinations of heavy as fuck chugs and riffs, compelling grooves, and excellent production, this album delivers a package that will appeal to all death metal fans.
“Ritual of Ash” is an impressive and imposing debut album that should be played loud and often. Fuckin’ fantastic!