Here we have an 18-minute EP featuring two intro/interlude-style tracks and two more standard songs.
Ashlands play atmospheric black metal with plenty of melody and raw bite. The music betrays folk influences quite readily, with acoustic guitars being used to add texture effectively. Some of these parts have a progressive rock feel too, and I like how the band have crafted this in such a rich and nuanced way.
The dark spectre of the second wave can be felt in the heavier parts of the songs, meaning that despite the folk and atmospheric aspects of the music, Ashlands know how to go in for the kill when they need to. At the moment some of the folk and second wave elements are kept relatively separate; individually they are both strong, but when combined they shine. Ashlands also have a lot of melodic skill, regardless of what they are doing in the music.
Ashlands II is a well-written and enjoyable release. It demonstrates a band with a lot of promise and potential, and I’m keen to explore what they offer in the future. I think if the band become even more adept at combining their various components then they could offer up something quite impressive at some point, (the final track especially hints at this). Here’s hoping. Until then, Ashlands II is still well worth your time and attention.