When a band that I've never heard of comes to my attention, it's mandatory for me to look 'em up on M-A or see if I can find any buzz about 'em on the web. Well, these guys are not on M-A and they seem to have come out of nowhere, but am I fucking glad that they were brought to my attention, because Ashencult are the real deal. Most bands release a demo or an EP for their first release just to get their names out there, but not with this group. Ashencult went all in and released their debut record "Black Flame Gnosis" and it's some of the best black metal I've heard in a while. What's even more stunning is that this band is from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, yet they sound like they could be shredding it up in Sweden with Dissection, Watain, and Sacramentum. Yes, they're that damn good.
Like I said earlier, the easiest groups to compare Ashencult to would be melodic black metal heavyweights such as Dissection and the like. This sound is made as clear as day once the first track "A Glorious Elegy" comes on and the razor-sharp, yet melodic tremolos start slicing away. "Awakening of the Sunset" and "The Whore and the Failure of Light" follow suit and deliver with some crazy tremolo sections that are sure to mesmerize the listener. There's also some great thrashy moments to be found throughout "Black Flame Gnosis" that add some more variety to the music, as well as cause the listener's neck to ache from the headbanging that is sure to ensue. "The Isolate" and "Race of the Blood Insane" are two monster tracks that embrace the faster, heavier thrashy riffs along with the terrific black metal tremolo bursts, which is precisely why these two songs stand out as some of the best on the record.
In addition to the abrasive riffage and melodies, Ashencult uses plenty of eerie chords and progressions to evoke a darker atmosphere ("Awakening the Sunset") and they even whip out their acoustics for the intro to "Dark Law/Black Fires of Chaos." The rhythm section honestly doesn't stand out too much to warrant a lot of praise, but the drumming provides the intensity and speed that one would hope for and the bass does its job fine as well, so there aren't any complaints that can be made either. The vocals here are vicious at points and evil at others, which is precisely what I want in my black metal, so again, these guys score high marks all around. Overall, Ashencult and their debut full-length "Black Flame Gnosis" will be on the receiving end of a lot of praise this coming year and they deserve every bit because they're an amazing addition to the current black metal scene (especially in America).
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"A Glorious Elegy"
"Race of the Blood Insane"
4.4/5 or 88%.