Crash Music Inc., Relapse Records (2012)
April 4th, 2006 / January 17th, 2012
Release length: 33:24
Obviously the audio here is a little less than crisp, coming off with a slightly rawer trait that gives the music a much rougher sound to work with its aggressive nature. The guitars come off a little muddy due to this, thanks largely to the thick amount of distortion applied with an already deep sound to the album’s quality, and not to mention thanks to the tuning of the guitar and how additionally blunt said distortion makes it come off. The bass is pretty strong in this too, though it feels a bit buried compared to the already deeper tone of music, while the bass kicks bring in a higher pitch thanks to the click that comes through against the snares that just sound very tight and louder, clean cymbal crashes. The guttural performance here doesn’t quite dominate, and went he music gets a little technical or a lot richer, they can be a bit drowned out a bit like the bass guitar finds itself, an issue found throughout the release but quite obvious during “State of Mind.”
And the whole audio quality here genuinely works in favor of the band. Abysmal Dawn doesn’t necessarily present anything too unique or original to this mix with From Ashes, but they do end up bringing in a great performance with well composed and executed material that plays off that slightly rawer sound well. The energy the group brings in also leads to making this a noteworthy Death Metal entry, and the combative faster tones against more technical, slower bridges really give the music a dueling vibe that can really catch the listener off-guard. “In the Hands of Death” shows this off well, having a solid faster paced intensity backing up an energetic performance throughout that will have you head banging right along with it and the air of creepier, darker atmosphere that is still incorporated. However, those tones to the music often show up stronger in the mid to slower-paced material that shows slight Progressive shades to it similar to modern-day Obscura or latter Death material. These elements all end up bridged together well for a sound that simply makes this track, among others, feel like you are both being brutalized by an unknown force, but at the same time succumbing to an apocalyptic Death Metal ambience that just feel unsettling, and uncompromising.
It’s those sort of tracks that really make the album, and sadly there just isn’t enough of them. Of course this is far from a bad thing as it leads to a decent amount of variety that still can throw some additional styles and concepts at the listener. “Solitude’s Demise” shows this nicely with a far slower and crushing pace that will have your head bobbing along to the rhythm of the guitar chords no matter where you’re at, feeling helpless thanks to its dark, hopeless attitude and aggression. There’s also “Blacken the Sky” to take notice of, which immediately hits the listener with that impending apocalyptic tone once more, but it has a strong groove backing up much of the crushing music, and there’s even a slight amount of melody being incorporated into some of the riffs that in no way feels forced or sends it spiralling into the Melodic Death Metal genre, working perfectly to get the point across as far as the tone goes. The same goes for “Wicked Impulse” and many others, but this song takes things a bit further with a faster pace to some of the verses.
There really are just no bad tracks on this album in the long run. Sure, some may not quite be as strong as others, but overall the amount of variety incorporated into the release, and the energetic drive behind the band captured really puts the band’s best foot forward. However, there are very few songs on here that can quite compare to the commanding closing of the album. “Salting the Earth” is just a non-stop straight Death Metal assault, full of brutalizing riffs and blistering drumming through much of its three and a half-minute length. But, while it’s one of the tightest recordings off the album, it also ends up being one of the most traditional in the line of Death Metal, not really offering up much other than a mixture of modern aggression with an old-school groove and template. This leads to the closing track “Crown of Desire,” which just sound big the moment it starts, having a bit of melody to some chords again, but still leaning towards a stronger strict Death Metal design that uses the bridges and chorus well to build up the song into some awe-inspiring levels backed by a strong ominous and commanding atmosphere.
There is nothing like being able to own all of a band’s material, and having a reissue being done right. From Ashes finds a new home with Relapse Records, and being released commercially once more six years after it’s Crash Music release. The label has had the entire effort remastered, and the quality here is notably better. The music just sounds a lot richer, as well as crisper. The only problem with this is that the guitars actually sound a little louder, and the elements that were once only a slightly drowned out can be hard to pick up on at times. The vocals on some songs, like the aforementioned “State of Mind,” can find the guitars and even some drumming washing over them with little room to breathe, and the bass is still present but doesn’t quite feel as apparent here though.
But, even with those faults, it still makes for a more modern sounding recording that still holds the atmospheres well, and just generally sounds better than the first pressing. But that’s not all. On top of the remastering, this reissue also contains the three song demo Abysmal Dawn released back in 2004, and in its original track list, something labels seem to not want to do as of late for some reason. While the album clearly sounds remixed, these tracks don’t really sound that way, retaining a very raw sound that clearly shows they are demo recordings, such as some of the noise from the speakers being picked up in the recording during some of the emptier moments of “Blacken the Sky (Demo 2004).” This just makes the album feel complete, and also gives you an interesting view into how the songs were originally composed, which aren’t really too far off from those that appear on From Ashes outside a clearly different audio qualities and a far more aggressive sound replacing that energetic performance on the album, weaving the songs in a much more dismal light.
Overall, From Ashes really makes for a great debut recording either way. The amount of energy and the different sounds and atmospheres brought in really give the listener enough to keep him or her on their toes through the entire release. While some tracks do tend to tread into more traditional Death Metal ground at times, there are still plenty of others that make those kind of traits pointless to be concerned about. Not only does the initial pressing make for a solid Death Metal recording worth checking out, but you also now have the remastered edition for 2012 that includes the demo recordings, which is a must have for any devoted fan, allowing him or her the chance to actually own all of the band’s material in one form or another. It’s pretty obvious from this that From Ashes should be in your collection if you enjoy what the band does, and even just Death Metal fans in general will find themselves coming back to this album from time to time, never truly getting bored with what it offers.
01. Impending Doom – 1:39
02. In the Hands of Death – 3:50
03. Blacken the Sky – 4:15
04. Servants to Their Knees – 4:02
05. Wicked Impulse – 3:26
06. Solitude’s Demiuse – 4:37
07. State of Mind – 4:16
08. Crown Desire – 3:46
|Overall Score: 8/10
2012 Reissue Score: 8.5/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Relapse Records.