ASHEN LIGHT "Pesn Velesa"
ASHEN LIGHT is a Russian band that I knew nothing about until this release. Now, I want to know more about them solely because of this album. "Pesn' Velesa" (translated "Song Of Veles") is full of good Black Metal songs with folk elements. It contains energetic guitars, inspiring keyboard sections, trollish Black Metal vocals, and a decent drumming. It's not quite Symphonic Black Metal, but it's close. They concentrate more on the guitars and the keyboards are just there to add another dimension to the sound. One thing you'll notice is an instrument that really adds something to the songs. I'm pretty sure it's a flute, even though they don't list it as one of the instruments. My guess is it's a keyboard-generated sound similar to a flute. Either way, it sounds great when it's combined with the thin guitars and screeching vocals. A solid production is evident in all of the slow/mid-paced songs. If not for the futile intro/outro songs, this would receive a higher score. Still, this is very good Russian Black Metal.
ASHEN LIGHT "Pesn Velesa"
The Metal Review Archive
Ashen Light from Moscow, Russia, started in 1997. This is their debut album, and it bears a Russian title. Apparently it translates to "Veles song". Ashen Light's chosen style is symphonic folk-inspired Black Metal. A certain trademark in their sound is the synth flute, which drives the music forward with a handful of catchy riffs. The sound of the flute is perhaps a bit plastic, but it's catchy and original, so who cares? There is also quite a bit of atmospheric choir synths here, which, especially on one of the tracks bears a certain reminiscence to the mood of Dimmu Borgir's 'Stormblåst' album. Over all, Ashen Light is quite a bit more catchy and melodic than the mentioned Dimmu album though, which is fine by me. Although there is quite a bit of synth in these songs, it's allright because the guitars are still the main instrument here. Ashen Light is very melodic, with loads of tremolo playing leading the way and synths such as choirs and harps supporting the melody lines. This seems to be a bit folk inspired, and many tracks possess a medieval amosphere, but no matter what, this album is filled to the brim with excellent melodies and a catchy drive which puts me in a great mood. The only weakness is that some songs are a little bit repetitive in the way that some parts re-appear quite a few times through the song. But if you like your black metal melodic and catchy, Ashen Light would definately be worth checking out! Non-stop catchyness!
ASHEN LIGHT "Stary Bilini/Slavenskie Vechera"
OK, I admit, I can read Russian/Cyrillic, as long as it is regular, printed letters. Russian ASHEN LIGHT, unfortunately, do not make it all that easy with their album "Stary Bilini/Slavenskie Vechera", because they use a font that gives me big, big problems, so if there is a mistake in the track-list, please let me know, ok? Alright. Some of you might have read Ryan's review of "Pesn' Velesa". If you expect the same, rough, melodic Black Metal, then "Stary Bilini/Slavenskie Vechera" (thank god that you can mark, copy and paste!) offers you exactly one track, more precisely the last one, "Besnovataya (Epilog)", the only song with vocals. Now, the question is, what is the rest? Well, as my style-categorization of "Atmospheric Metal" implies, this is all about atmosphere. In some tracks we don't even get guitars, but birds chirping, keyboards and some rhythm. No technoid crap or electronics, but just like the soundtrack to a walk in the woods. Every now and then we also get electric guitars (with the Black Metal-typical very thin sound), to accentuate the compositions of this duo (on the previous album they apparently still had been a quintet). Yet over more than an hour of playing time it gets a little too repetitive, making you start to look at the tracklist, how many songs are still to come… So if you expect "Stary Bilini/Slavenskie Vechera" to be in the same way as "Pesn' Velesa", then be careful, because you might get an atmospheric shock from listening to this. If you like it atmospheric and calm, then this is the right album for you, but beware of the last track and the voice…
ASHEN LIGHT "In Accomplice Suffering: Conviction Is Hell"
Russia's best return with their fourth release which contains 4 cover songs and 3 new songs. I wish it were all new songs because I'm not too crazy about the songs they decided to re-record. Well, besides "Transilvanian Hunger." Anybody can do that song and it'll still sound awesome! Anyway, the album starts with my favourite song which also happens to be the title track. It's the true ASHEN LIGHT from their "Pesn' Velesa" days, meaning thin guitars, grim vocals, and a truly melodic experience. Little changes can be noticed as well, like the guitars aren't quite as thin sounding as before and the vocals are a little deeper and less screechy. The song is then followed by one of IMMORTAL's "hit songs," "Blashyrkh." It's hard to tell which version sounds better since I'm not a big fan of IMMORTAL - or any of the other bands they covered. (Again, besides DARKTHRONE's "Transilvanian Hunger," which happens to be one of the best songs ever written.) Next up is another new song that sounds pretty slow, but what makes it interesting is the catchy piercing sound of the guitars. The good overall production of the album makes it possible for me to enjoy the guitars. After three more cover songs (if you're a fan of Black Metal, you'll know who did the originals), it's time for the last of the new songs, "Grave Silence." It's a slow, atmospheric, and slightly Doom-sounding song. Again, the piercing thin guitars make it worth listening to. As I've said before, "In Accomplice Suffering" would be a better album if it contained all new songs. Even if the songs were in the vein of their "Stary Bilini/Slavenskie Vechera" album, I would still enjoy it because it's the true ASHEN LIGHT. But then again, this one's still mostly ASHEN LIGHT. Especially that wicked album cover! Hehe.
ASHEN LIGHT "The Songs of the Dead/ The Call of the Darkness"
After listening to the first album by Ashen Light, I’ve got distracted by the foreign metal scene and completely lost sight of the band’s development. However, my attention was drawn to them by the release of another album ????? ???????/??? ???? (The Songs of the Dead/ The Call of the Darkness). I found out that after the release of ????? ?????? (Songs of Veles*) the band ceased to exist. Everyone, except for Alex, formed a new sympho death-black project called Atra Mustum. In the mean time, Alex found new musicians: Father Sergey (vocals) and Katherine (keys), and wrote two albums ????? ?????? (Old Bylinas, 2000) and ?????????? ?????? (Slavenskie Vechera 2001 ?.). The fall of 2002 saw the release of a new album ????? ???????/??? ???? (The Songs of the Dead/ The Call of the Darkness) from the new Ashen Light. The band organized a small presentation concert for their album on 26th of October, 2002, which I also managed to visit (see Events). During this concert I was also handed over a copy of this album, which permits me now to evaluate the level of development of the band… Alex stayed true to black, however, he did try to switch to folk darkwave. The new album is a kind of a return to their origins, lessening the atmospheric part and adding “true” elements. I was quite surprised by the fact that the band had asked the choir of the Russian Orthodox Church to assist them. This looks rather extraordinary keeping in mind the genre of Ashen Light. Though the overall impression from the CD is quite positive, the piece of work in question has its negative features as well. For example, the bass part is substituted by the keys, the drums—by the drum-machine. On the one hand, this gives the album its “rawness” (making it resemble true black even more), on the other—makes the sound too computerized. So, father Sergey has to distract the attention of the listeners by his wild screams, which he does rather well, I must say. During the concert (26.10.02) Sergey promised that the band was soon to have a real drummer. I really hope that this is going to happen and that the band will not lose anything in terms of the quality! The CD also has 3 bonus tracks, which the band decided to include. These are 3 live-songs recorded during their gig in R-club (Moscow) on 26 of January, 2002. One of the songs is their own, taken from the album ????? ??????? (the Songs of the Dead), the other two are rather decently performed cover versions of the songs of Norwegian true-black masters Darkthrone and Immortal. P.S. My boundless gratitude to More Hate Productions and Ashen Light for the provided CD.
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