With each release, this Canadian duo has taken their idiosyncratic approach to black metal and pushed it out further, to the point where it bares little resemblance to the genre that birthed it. Alight in Ashes, for example, brings in much more in the way of noise-tinged soundscapes and haunting, unique vocals than it does any staccato riffs or cookie monster growls.
One of the two most striking facets of this album is its lack of percussion. Some deep, monotone thuds can be heard lurking in the either on "Salamandra" and "Cup of Oblivion," the latter especially coming across as some Neolithic caveman pounding a simple, but functional rhythm. Other than that the album is pure ambience and texture
The other distinctive element is Geneviève’s distinctive voice, which seems to channel some medieval madrigal more so than anything of the modern era. For that reason some of the tracks, most specifically "Disease of Fear," take on a certain neo-folk quality, though amidst distorted squalls and fuzzy synths rather than acoustic guitars or more traditionalist instrumentation.
The opening to the aforementioned "Disease of Fear" also looks more towards the past than the present: structurally it does sound almost like a medieval ballad, but played by a barely controlled passage of feedbacking guitar. The dichotomy between classical and modernism, of powerful beauty and ugly dissonance, is an ongoing theme throughout the album. The stripped down "Burnt Offerings" is just guitar that reaches soaring and dramatic swells of gorgeous tone and guttural, unpleasant lows for eight brilliant minutes.
The same dichotomy applies on "Arsenikon (Faded in Discord)": bent and lovely guitar tones clash with one another under multi-tracked, droning vocals in a stop/start structure that prevents things from getting too comfortable. The more attractive sounds begin to take command at the end, only be swallowed by a morass of static and noise.
Alight in Ashes is an even further abstraction of conventional sound than its predecessors, which is definitely an asset in the overpopulated world of black metal and its various offshoots. Unlike other albums in this field though, it is inviting and downright melodic at times, leading to a great, eclectic whole.
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