(Andy Synn reviews the new second album by Australia’s Claret Ash.)
Oh, Australia, how/why you’re currently experiencing this upsurge in attention and exposure for your contribution to the world of the Metallic arts I don’t know… but I do know that it’s thoroughly deserved.
I mean, seriously, I don’t even have to think all that hard to come up with a frankly staggering array of all the great things that have come from Down Under in recent years… Be’Lakor, Ne Obliviscaris, Drowning the Light, Orpheus Omega, Whoretopsy, the highly underappreciated Okera, Dawn of Azazel, Stargazer, Innsmouth, my current personal favourites Sanzu, Rise of Avernus, Advent Sorrow, Watchtower, Hope Drone, Spire, Wardaemonic, The Schoenberg Automaton, Caligula’s Horse, Mad Max… the list goes on!
Well, not to be forgotten or outdone, the boys in Claret Ash have just unleashed their sophomore effort, and what a nasty little piece of high-quality sonic darkness it is!
Without going into too many specifics, The Cleansing is filled to bursting with scything, scorched-earth riffing, dominating drum work, and gnarled, glass-chewing vocals, whose distinctive delivery – a ravaged, feverish snarl of fury and contempt – positively drips with equal parts venom and anguish.
The songs themselves – nine of them in total — shift dynamically and organically between fast and slow, darkness and light, cruelty and beauty, punishing power and malign melody, and do so with a tightness and accuracy that’s absolutely mesmerising.
The amount of melody on display is also particularly impressive, in that it never weakens or distracts from the sheer intensity of the music. Rather, these serpentine lead lines, these perfectly placed solo sections and cutting, virulently infectious riffs, all weave together into a constricting net of keenly sharpened, flesh-rending hooks designed to draw the listener inexorably into the maelstrom of ravenous aggression and raw, keening emotion at the heart of each song.
As solemn and melancholy as it is scathing and misanthropic, as electrifying and as powerful as it is regal and majestic, The Cleansing is an absolutely fantastic album from start to finish, and one which rivals the brilliance of Der Weg Einer Freiheit’s phenomenal Stellar as one of this year’s most perfect examples of the art of Black Metal in all its unabashed and unrelenting power and glory.
Play it loud, and play it proud.
And then play it again.