Ashen Horde – Antimony (Transcending Obscurity)

Monday, 23rd January 2023
Rating: 8.5 / 10

When a band sets out to push the boundaries creatively, especially with the massive quantity of music these days, it’s certainly refreshing. Always on the lookout for anything that defies genre constructs, Ashen Horde’s latest release Antimony more than satisfied that thirst.

At the highest level being a mix of progressive black metal and technical death metal, Ashen Horde pushed the boundaries more than ever on their fourth full-length, expanding their sound to cast a wider net of influence. Antimony also is themed to the famed mysterious murder of Charles Bravo, a fascinating unsolved murder case from 1876, to which each song represents a chapter of which to tell the story.

After a short intro track, we dive into “The Throes of Agony,” which is mostly a technical death metal showcase, with changing time signatures galore and wild guitar work. “The Consort” is a more varied affair, featuring soaring melodies, combined with complex guitar rhythms, and some mid-range clean vocals adding variance. “The Barrister” is where the album explodes into life, with synchronized clean/snarling growls early on, transitioning to guttural growls and black metal shrieks that gel together shockingly well in this otherwise busy track. Lead harsh vocalist Stevie Boiser (also of Inferi) sounds potently fierce here.

Next is “The Physician” – a blistering flurry of tempo changes and expert guitar wizardry, courtesy of Trevor Portz (who also provides the clean vocals throughout the album). “The Courtesan” is another entry of note, boasting an ethereal clean passage and a searing solo, providing a balanced contrast to a veritable parade of riffs and bombastic drum work. “Animus Nocendi” is a black metal feast, opening with a high pitched squeal of which hails as a precursor to over seven minutes of pure chaos.

What sets Ashen Horde apart is not only the band’s technical prowess, but their ability to compose genuinely interesting songs. Antimony comes together splendidly in a slickly complex, yet crisp and punchy package that is their most prolific release to date. Just make sure someone isn’t slipping you poison, like one of the theories about Charles Bravo’s ultimate demise. It was totally the housekeeper.

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