This is the third album from Irish black metal act Eternal Helcaraxe.
On Drown in Ash Eternal Helcaraxe provide 47 minutes of music that’s dark and personal, dealing with intimate themes of depression and loss. As such, the music is a forlorn and melancholic form of black metal that drips with feeling and emotion.
This is black metal so certainly has its share of aggression, but this aspect of the music is used to further the band’s aims of expressing a dark emotional range. The songs carry a a great deal of atmosphere and melody, both of which contribute to the album’s rich tapestry of delivery. There’s an epic streak that comes to the surface too in places, and this, like everything else here, is very effective. I suppose, overall, if you imagine a mix of Emperor, Forgotten Tomb, and None, you’ll have a rough idea of what we’re dealing with here.
The music seems to flow with an emotive freedom that is unusual in black metal. The songs delve deep into themselves to dredge up every foul and despairing emotion they can possibly find. These are then poured into the guitars, which radiate with an intensity of feeling that’s typically not encountered outside of some of the better examples of blackgaze or depressive black metal. The interesting thing about Drown in Ash though is that although the music does share some minor aspects of its sound with those styles, ultimately it mainly operates in melodic/atmospheric second wave waters. It’s what the album does in those waters that’s so impressive.
Vocally the majority of the time we’re treated to the sort of high pitched blackened screams that are definitely my favourite type of vocals to go along with this type of thing. Other styles are occasionally thrown in too, such as mood-rich cleans and grim growls. All of the performances are strong.
Drown in Ash is a seriously good piece of work. Eternal Helcaraxe demonstrate just how affecting black metal can be when played with an emphasis on emotion and when backed up by talented songwriting.
Very highly recommended.