Ashen Horde marches again.
Created in 2013 in the United States by Trevor Portz (guitar/bass/vocals, Abhoria, Bite Wound), the musician recruits Stevie Boiser (vocals, Equipoise, Inferi, ex-Vale of Pnath) and then Robin Stone (drums, Chestcrush, Norse, ex-The Amenta) and Igor Panasewicz (bass, Valiomierda, NightWraith…) to continue his adventure. In 2023, the band released Antimony, their fourth album, on Transcending Obscurity Records.
The album starts with Summoning, a soft and melodious introduction which guides us to The Throes of Agony, a much heavier and dissonant track anchoring the band’s sound in a heavy and complex Progressive-influenced Black/Death. The different screams accentuate the track’s aggressiveness, but it also knows how to slow down to captivate us, followed by the mysterious The Consort which couples raw elements and fast patterns to soaring melodies and different intonations, either in clean or saturated vocals to give this dark and sometimes jerky track some relief. The regular rhythmic also welcomes some heady leads, then The Barrister fully exploits the band’s Prog roots coupled with an oppressive dissonance which does not take long to return to the omnipresent heaviness, as well as to aggressive patterns. The track remains very rich, just like The Physician and its raw riffs the band skillfully mixes with more complex and frantic influences. Old School roots are also present on this impressive and crushing composition, while The Courtesan develops melodious sounds, followed by a sharp acceleration and cutting harmonics. Clean vocals will soothe the atmosphere again to lead us to The Disciple and its massive screams, suddenly igniting the rhythmic and turning it into waves of rage before slowing down to let The Neophyte take over with heavy and dark sounds. Clean vocals and screams meet on this track with an unhealthy atmosphere which will be crushed by the long Animus Nocendi and its fascinating mix of heaviness coupled with a dissonant technicality, but also with everything the band already offered us, like melodic parts, visceral screams and heavy sounds. The musicians close the album with Knives, a very short last track made of jerky and aggressive riffs to get back to Old School sounds while keeping its worked touch.
With Antimony, Ashen Horde asserts its worked and dissonant style which draws as much from a massive Black/Death as from complex Progressive influences. The album is incredibly rich, but also very coherent. A treasure for those who know how to listen to it.