Ablaze My Sorrow – Among Ashes and Monoliths (Black Lion Records)Thursday, 4th March 2021
Part of the original Swedish melodic death metal wave in the 1990’s, Ablaze My Sorrow fell just under the radar of acts like In Flames, At the Gates, and Dark Tranquillity in terms of popularity as a part of the No Fashion roster. Splitting in 2006 after three albums, they came back together in 2013 and now arrive at their fifth studio record for Among Ashes and Monoliths. With long-time singer Kristian Lönnsjö leaving in 2019, pressure is on ex-The Incarnation vocalist Jonas Udd to see if his growls and screams can live up to expectation – along with a set of material that keeps the essence of Swedish melodic death at heart, adding extreme/blackened elements to make the attack sharper.
Jonas has a vicious streak but can also glide into some morose clean singing that makes “Black Waters” an early standout, the steady mid-tempo backbeat against speedy tremolo licks lifting the arrangement as you can feel the sorrow and pain dripping through the shifting, weighty transitions. Folk/cultural nuances come in through the bouncy rhythm section work and momentum building guitar riffs for “Her Cold Embrace”, while songs like “My Sorrow” and “At the Graves of Giants” deliver paint-melding guitar melodies, bursts of speed, and aggressive musical passages that should tear limbs from flesh and take listeners back to the 1990’s with a stronger, forceful production. Odd keyboard/whistling sound effects open “The Cavernous Deep” – a more commercial offering in terms of main parts a la Paradise Lost, Jonas employing a moaning nature during the verses that grows more aggressive during the chorus, a probable headbanging pleaser for future Ablaze My Sorrow live shows. The twelve tracks fly by in a rather economical 47 minutes, another sign that these veterans supply the goods, get down to business, and leave their listeners on a high note rather than exhausting the riff/idea supply.
Ablaze My Sorrow knows what works best for them – stay within that lane, and create compelling, addictive melodic death metal songs that are quite catchy and brutal when need be. Among Ashes and Monoliths deserves your attention if you miss the early days of In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, and others in that breed.