Wednesday, August 24, 2011

josé's band of the week: ash borer

from Arcata, California, USA.

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Ash Borer first got into my radar when I picked up their imaginatively titled tape demo from 2009, '2009 Demo', which contained just a pair of tracks but managed to get past the limitations of the format and the non-existence of a deeply evocative concept and get into my daily rotation for quite a while back there. Could well be called 'Fart Candy' or 'Sewage Elephant' for all I care, when a song like the fourteen minute long 'Drukne' is enough to kidnap my consciousness from whatever crap it's occupied with and launch it into deep, dark, fathmoless space for the duration. On top of it I was bummed out with Wolves In The Throne Room's less than stellar 'Black Cascade' (which has since grown on me a little bit more, though) and I needed me some atmospheric mystical black metal from the West Coast to fill my life. You should all know by now how much of a sucker for this kind of thing I am - which doesn't mean I'm not picky. That's why I kept Ash Borer as a very vivid spot on that radar of mine.

Thing is, my radar gets distracted sometimes. So I kept up with Ash Borer as they put out a split with Fell Voices shortly after, but somehow failed to notice that they released a proper album (self-titled) earlier this year. It was only, ironically enough, when I saw a mention of it on a review of the fantastic new Wolves In The Throne Room album, that I was aware of it. Having duly acquired the precious item, its mere three songs, small in number but near infinite in length (40 minutes, okay? But it feels like 40000, and in a good way), have been in constant demand by my ears, frantically trying to make up for lost time. By the way, do you know what an ash borer is?

Says here it's "an invasive species, highly destructive to ash trees," and that "since its accidental introduction into the United States and Canada in the 1990s (...) it has killed at least 50 - 100 million ash trees so far and threatens to kill most of the 7.5 billion ash trees throughout North America." So yes, it's a nasty motherfucker. Now then, imagine that it came from deep space, where a curse of old has caused the time-space continuum to rip apart and allowed this monstrosity to squeeze through whatever distorted dimension it was living in, picture it ten times its size, and replace "ash trees" with "human beings" in that description, and you kinda have an idea of what Ash Borer, the band, sound like.

Sure, there's tons of dark atmospheres and creepy ambient parts throughout the slowly but surely expanding universes that are their songs, but within the turmoil of several shades of black metal crashing against ugly doom and head-spinning psychedelia there is always an aura of malice and discomfort that will keep you gripped to your seat, or bed, or bathtub, or wherever it is you listen to weird mindfuck music like this. Forget that there's a 20 minute song, or that people will use the word "cascadian" to describe it or that even I managed to drop Wolves In The Throne Room a bunch of times into this post (when they actually remind me much more of the equally awesome Ensorcelor). Ash Borer are way above any silly preconceptions or comparisons, crossing genres and limitations at will with deep, lasting effect, so I suggest you pay them some attention. Start by purchasing delightful items.


  1. Yeah, well, I find this quite interesting. But I'm so pinned into the new Altar of Plagues and was so hooked on the new Woods of Desolation before it that I feel I'm almost at my threshold for atmospheric BM this year. :)

    I'll probably like it more with subsequent listens though, as is usually the case.

  2. BTW, Altar of Plagues "Mammal" may be my very favorite 2011 record so far, maybe tied for the 1st spot with Trap Them's "Darker Handcraft". Anyhow, that's OK because they're so different from each other.

    A little off-topic but, is it just me or track #3 off "Mammal" could very well be a Terra Tenebrosa track?!

  3. In a way, almost anything can be a Terra Tenebrosa track. Think about the depth of that statement for a while now.

    And yeah, Mammal is in my top 10 so far, and Darker Handcraft in my top 3.

  4. I like how organic and fluid and shapeless (!) your list-forming skills are. How it all flows from Jan 1 to Dec 31.. :P

    Will think about the depth of the former during my entire bike ride which will start in a couple of hours. That's how much I dig your philosophy tidbits. ;)