Sound — 10
There has been a notable trend in the realm of extreme music as of late. Recently we've been seeing the influx of approximately four million bands which seem to delve into the frenzied darkness of black metal yet manage to avoid being identified as so. This growth in post-black metal' has been an exciting one, it's allowing progress in the genre as well as providing new sounds. Naysayers who are probably stuck in circa 1992 Norway, claim that this new movement is not even really black metal. Whatever genre it is, Castevet's Mounds of Ash kicks a mind-boggling amount of arse. Mounds, follows this path of modern black metal while incorporating in elements of sludge and hardcore. It is an unusual beast, filled with usual black metal ideas such as tremolo picked guitars and dissonant progressions. But there are also crunchy bottom-end riffs which are reminiscent of Neurosis and notable lack of rapid-fire blast beats. At first it is hard to comprehend that all this music is done by only three people: Andrew Hock on guitar and vocals, Josh Scott on bass and Ian Jacyszyn on drums. But after a while one realises that the album offers the bare essentials- but uses them effectively on many levels. Hock provides a barrage of dissonant riffing alongside some rather lovely arpeggios (not of the sweeped kind, thankfully) while Scott arranges some solid backing. The real standout is the fantastic drumming by Jacyszyn, who eally shines through his sometimes fast, sometimes tribal sounding efforts. The interplay between these musicians is astounding, working as a team to display very interesting and tight music.
Lyrics — 8
Once again, this band differs from the standard black metal formula by avoiding shrieked vocals but chooses a low raspy bark. It is incredible how similar the vocals are to that ISIS' Aaron Turner, and surprisingly the lack of variety does not detract from the overall quality. Rather unfortunately, the band has not publicly released lyrics though vocalist Hock describes the lyrical themes to pertain mostly to escapism' He continues by saying I tend to utilize surrealistic descriptions to convey the feeling of being confined to the realities of existence'
Overall Impression — 10
Mounds of Ash is a surreal foray into black metal, providing some devastating music which can also serve as regal and airy. By not adhering to the standard rules of black metal, Mounds of Ash not only exceeds expectations but distances itself from categorisation. In a scene which is rapidly gaining momentum, Castevet is one of the standouts- fresh yet oddly familiar in nature. Mounds of Ash is an exemplary effort which seems to symbol hope for a stagnating scene.