Right away, fans of Danish Death Metal will pick up on how much Ashes of Sorrow sounds like something from their home town Death Metal brothers, Illdisposed. The audio quality mirrors them quite closely with the decent mid-level buzz to the guitars and mildly loud bass guitar presence that allows a Hardcore attitude to the mix, even at it’s most melodic. The vocals also have that familiar distortion at work, though it does change up a little later on. The drums, however, sound great the entire release, helping to maintain the fluid pacing of the songs quite well.
What’s more, most of the performances even come across like something off one of their recordings. “Mind Shut Down” is a steady assault right from the start, hitting the listener with a catchy mixture of Death Metal riffs and some Thrash influence, as well as Hardcore as you approach the two minute mark. The mid-tempo pacing only lets up in a few brief spots, which the solid drumming helps, keeping a mild aggression alive from start to finish. That aspect, however, is much stronger during “Life is the Way You Die”. Much like the previous, there is restraint for the sake of fluidity, but there are some segments that unleash faster drums and guitarwork, not to mention dismal, slower material that winds up a nice little addition.
There aren’t a lot of tracks that manage to stick out due to the familiar territory Shadowspawn treads. “Slaves in Delusion” is worth taking note of thanks to how well it takes everything the previous tracks laid out, building upon them to make a solid performance. Tighter guitars take advantage of the distortion, additional echo effects give the vocals a rawer touch, and the bass plays an important roll at times in making certain drops more explosive. But then there’s “Sins of the Deceiver”, which is a dramatic change of pace for the band. For the most part, it sticks with the groove-heavy Death Metal influence from time to time, but there are some keyboard notes through in to play up a bit of an Industrial influence with a watery effect on the harshened vocals that sound like something torn right off a Ministry album, but not necessarily one of their better ones.
Sadly, there’s very little about Ashes of Sorrow that stands out, or is even all that great. Nearly everything about this EP just sounds like long-established ideas retreaded by a newly formed group too afraid to go all out and have some fun. The only difference is that this entity shows a great deal of control most of the time, restraining the enthusiasm necessary to allow these otherwise fluid performances the bite they require to make much of an impact. This isn’t to say Ashes of Sorrow is bad, just that it’s all been done before. Sadly, one spin through this debut Shadowspawn EP will leave you craving some Illdisposed instead.