#EternalHelcaraxe 🇮🇪 Drown in Ash

4 min read

Band: Eternal Helcaraxe
Title: Drown in Ash
Label: Naturmacht Productions
Release date: 30 September 2022
Country: Ireland
Format reviewed: High-quality Digital Recording

Well, I must admit it: I love when Black Metal incorporates melancholy and an epic atmosphere to their music, it’s my weakness. So, when I started listening to “Drown in Ash” I was instantly mesmerized: oh that piano intro for “Withered Strands of Existence”… it’s so soft and gloomy, evoking blurred landscapes in my mind… When the guitar gently joins, building that melody, increasing the atmospheric feel, I am really waiting for the outburst to come. And wow, how it comes… after a minute and a half of melancholy, everything turns into a swirl of fury unleashed. But it’s not a brutal fury, it’s more a kind of beautiful one, if this makes sense; that scream tears up your ears and drums start being smashed mercilessly, and guitars (all played by Praetorian) and bass (Oceans) continue with that melody. Sometimes it’s hard for me to find the words… but the whole sound is b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l, yes.

I can say I love everything in this album, and maybe the most outstanding thing for me is the atmosphere these guys create all along the 47 minutes that it lasts. Plenty of tremolo guitars and repetitive melodies do their trick, and a lot of variations in drums is highly appreciated. And, the fact that the bass is not buried behind it all, this also enriches the sound. The “dramatic breaks” in the middle of some songs, like in the opener “Withered Strands of Existence”, with only guitars playing softly for a brief moment, but you know that the explosion will come, and you are waiting for it. And the high expectations are accomplished by far…

Lyrics talk about dark inner feelings, sorrowful thoughts, cold and bleak moods… Hats off to the lyricist for such beautiful passages being them of a melancholic kind, utterly touching. No hope, no kind or optimistic future… only emptiness and despair. “I don’t dwell in the darkness, the darkness dwells inside me” (from the song “Where Dead Things Roam Free”) is a great phrase and I think it sums up very well the whole sense of lyrics in the album.

I specifically mentioned the drums before, and I can say the guy behind the kit (Tyrith) is really talented and technical. In “Drown in Ash”, there’s a maintained brutal drumming right from the start, intense and really merciless, while strings and vocals are also working for that in an excellent way. But then… everything seems to soften. In a good sense of course! Second half of this song is a very different thing, drums disappear for a moment and when they return it’s for playing lots of variations all along with guitars and some choruses, this only intensifies the epic in this track.

Where Dead Things Roam Free” is very intense from start to finish, the use of some clean vocals in contrast with the screams/shrieks by Praetorian adds an extra layer of beauty to the track. And then, here comes an utterly melancholic passage in the middle of the album: “None of it Mattered” is a piano piece that makes your head turn into more sorrowful feelings; no aggression, no vocals distracting you from the fantastic piano melody… a soft oasis of calm. Believe me that it is needed to face the next song, “Ice Cold Winds”, which is again pure fury unleashed. But you can find a moment of calm in this one too, this time hand in hand by the guitars, playing softly until the drummer decided it was enough and a fierce scream tears the air… pure awesomeness, the transition from calm to a sonic wall built with energetic drums, guitars and Black Metal screams let me in awe.

About the vocals. I’m in love with the way the different kinds of vocals are used here, they are mainly screams by Praetorian, lead vocalist besides the guitar player and the one behind keys, but there are some clean vocals used as “mysterious chants” here and there. And then… there are some growled vocals too. Yes. “Cease” is a brilliant track with ominous vocals provided by Oceans, the bass player, besides the screams by Praetorian. Damn, this combination makes me shiver! Oceans really nail it, and this track distills brutal energy and a dark feel… drums are also about to destroy everything, Tyrith is a beast, though I think I mentioned this before…

In Darkwoods and Dreams” is the last track, it starts with high level of energy with (again) blasting drums, and the last three minutes is like everything is fading, the sound of synth and then the piano playing a few notes, gives that ethereal feeling that all is about to dilute into nothingness… That’s a perfect ending for a brilliant album, this is a 9,5/10 for me. Sílvia

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9,5/10 Epic Storm
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