Founded in 2015 by vocalist / guitarist Nick Stanger (Later completed by drummer Ian Sutherland, bassist Nathan Wallestad, guitarist Jackson Catton and keyboardist Cormac Piper) it didn’t take the atmospheric black metal outfit long to get the ball rolling AT ALL, as literally within days of forming, they found themselves working with Avantgarde Music and on their first US tour supporting AMIENSUS. Talk about going in at the deep end! Now, in 2019, we find Ashbringer releasing album number three; “Absolution”, their debut for the very respectable Prosthetic Records. The question is, are they truly free from all guilt and punishment?
At over an hour long, yet only consisting of eight tracks, we’re given an early indication of how this album is going to pan out, but the opening title-track provides an early surprise. With some quaintly plucked acoustic guitar, we’re off to a far mellower start than anticipated! This is eventually countered however by some seriously jarring vocals and though an interesting combination, it isn’t necessarily a pleasant one, however instrumentally it’s incredibly soothing and harmonious. The solo works really well too, and it’s a fine start. “Wilderness Walk” virtually continues in the same vain structurally, before the album begins to dissipate through its own indulgence. “Eternal Separation” Parts one and two indeed last an eternity with their prog-infused presentation, while “Dreamscape” at over ten minutes, with its reverberation and vacant tones is enough to put even Freddy Krueger to sleep.
Ultimately while both ambitious and clearly talented musicians, there’s something that doesn’t quite gel with the merger of such harsh vocals and melodious instrumentation. As a progressive / shoegaze record this works really well, especially instrumentally, however vocally it would be interesting to see what the likes of say, Chino Moreno of DEFTONES or Aaron Weiss of MEWITHOUTYOU could do with these tracks, but this doesn’t quite click. “Absolution” isn’t an absolute failure per se, but it isn’t absolutely fabulous either darling.