Metal Blade Records
May 10th, 2011
Release length: 41:10
And with Phoenix Amongst the Ashes, the band essentially seems to do so, as well as answers the demands of their fans for stronger material. The album starts off with a suiting introductory instrumental entitled “Rebirth”, which is a very suiting title that captures the lyrical concept common for the band, typically of elder gods and “the ancient ones”, bringing in a very menacing atmosphere with a slow and heavy approach to the music. Immediately the listener will pick up on the more Doom Metal crushing sound of the recordng, though that style is nowhere to be found on the recording outside the sheer heaviness that hammers away at the listener, especially when the track bleeds into “The Eternal Ruler”, a song that continues to pound away with constant snares and double bass, some Nile-esque technical guitars sans the Middle Eastern input, and a very commanding and intimidating gutteral vocal approach that matches the overall intimidating atmosphere of the song that is aided by a deep and muddy production quality.
The only problem with the first track is that there seems to be less of a variety in the drumming. Most of the time it was just a focus on blasting snares and bass kicks with some cymbols thrown in. While it’s an impressive element of fury and works for the song, it will more then likely start to get dull after a while, and upon the first listen the fear that it represents the whole album sinks in. Sadly that does become the case, but some tracks, such as “Thorns of Acacia”, does kind of continue that idea, but offers more variety to the drumming, as well as breaks in the snares to make them not simply go point a to point b and be nothing but continuous blasts of snares and kicks. There’s no denying “Thorns of Acacia” is a pivotol track for Phoenix Amongst the Ashes, and in a sense gives the listener a feeling of recent Behemoth and their commanding performance to the mix coupled with the aforementioned overall musical sound, though all of it becomes unique to Hate Eternal, especially with the more complex guitar work that appears in this and later songs, and the punishing gutterals that sound natural. And, in a sense, the music often takes on a Brutal and Technical stance. “The Art of Redemption”, for example, is a very intricate track of high speed brutality and madness. The drums pound away with some variety like “Thorns of Acacia”, but the song is punishing and overall crushing to the point where it even takes on a rather epic atmosphere with a more traditional Heavy Metal guitar solo that sounds fantastic against the double bass kicks that sound like machine gun blasts, making for one of the most intense moments in a Death Metal recording one could ever wish to hear.
The only real gripe that can be found about Phoenix Amongst the Ashes is that, while the songs have some clear and unique differences to them, and the drumming shows some variety in many tracks, the album seems to stick to the same general speed and sound. It gets to the point where the album starts to lose that heaviness and impressive intensity to a realization of repetition. The songs seem to have the same general composition when it comes to how vocals are handled, the drums almost never stop going at a machine gun pace, the guitars always seem complex and border a Technical approach with chords that do sound somewhat unique, but often don’t give much of an overall difference in the sound if you can understand that. Basically it becomes as if listening to varying covers of the same song overtime, but with all respect to the band, there’s just enough going on in the songs to show that they are somewhat different from each other, though not quite much. It’s rather hard to explain other then a little more variety to the technical and brutal madness would have been nice, such as a song that doesn’t come off blistering from the moment it starts. Even the short slower moments of “Deathveil” become a welcome addition to break up the punishing monotony. “Lake Ablaze” also features another short reprieve by having some slower double bass kicks near the end of the song that occur once in a while, and it’s great to hear, but too bad that this is the only time you get to actually hear them until the slower “The Fire of Resurrection” that still features fast double bass kicks against slower and sinister guitar chords that feel a little more along the lines of traditional Death Metal with some melody to them then overly technical and furious in speed and attitude. The atmosphere to this track is unlike any other song on here too, being more brooding and evil, which also makes for a great change of pace.
Overall, Phoenix Amongst the Ashes is an album that can easily redeem Hate Eternal, and in many ways does. However, the monotonous way the music is performed. Outside a few small bridges and tyhe closing track “The Fire of Resurrection”, the album is essentially the same idea over and over. Though impressive, the drums remain a constant factor that really doesn’t offer much to the album outside constant blasting snares or double bass kicks with maybe a few alterations to the rhythm of the high speed drumming assault. In the end, there’s plenty of potential here, and a good number of spectacular brutal moments, but by the time you finish “Haunting Abound”, you’ll be ready to just take a break, and perhaps not return to it so soon.
021. Rebirth – 1:17
03. The Eternal Ruler – 3:11
04. Thorns of Acacia – 4:30
05. Haunting Abound – 5:00
06. The Art of Redemption – 4:42
07. Phoenix Amongst the Ashes – 5:42
08. Deathveil – 3:32
09. Hatesworn – 4:49
10. Lake Ablaze – 4:29
11. The Fire of Resurrection – 3:58
|Initial Pressing Score: 6/10