Ash Borer, Cold of Ages

Per their one-sheet info: Arcata, California’s Ash Borer formed several years ago; they play “very harsh and bleak time-stretching atmospheric, ambient, yet searing raw black metal.”

Unusually for ad copy, this is very true.

What it doesn’t mention is that Cold of Ages (out August 14 on Profound Lore) is just as much doomy, atmospherically-psychedelic drone… Sunn O))) as a black metal band.

It sounds like something that’s harsh, weird and interesting… and actually is harsh, weird and interesting.

There’s four tracks, each wicked long (so far, so doomy), and the first is called “Descended Lamentations.”

If the inclusion of the word “lamentations” didn’t immediately clue you in to what kind of music this is, Cold of Ages may not be for you.

“Descended Lamentations” opens with ominous keyboards and wistful, single-note guitar lines… which don’t change until about three and a half minutes in… when the blast beats and screams emerge over detuned guitars (unusually detuned, at least for black metal)… sounding very similar at this point to Wolves in the Throne Room and Krallice… at 6:20 the riffs get a bit chunkier and nearly NWOBHM-ish, but two minutes later we’re back to all-out demonic screaming, chunky-riffed black metal… it closes, at nearly 16 minutes, like Sunn O))), with monolithic, rubato-ed chords, held as long as sonic decay (and modern electronics) will allow….

Next, “Phantoms” opens with a King Diamond-y slow riff with another (Mercyful Fate-y?) riff under it… then the vocal rasps swell and smolder beneath even that….

At this point, it’s a very involving record (if you listen just to it, and do nothing else… just letting it soak in)… at around two minutes there’s the slowest, sludgiest riff black metal ever heard, which eventually becomes a nearly-catchy chorus riff at around 3:15… you’re not going to have a Goddamned clue what the lyrics say, but that doesn’t detract from the overall experience… definite Krallice vibe again… now at 6:30, back to utterly-heavy doom riffs that hang on the open chord, replete with open minor chords beside them… then we slow down again into atmospherics, reminding me how much doom metal can (ironically?) emulate new age music….

“Convict All Flesh” opens with a single-note (not chord) riff with ample, and then more ample, reverb under it… sounds almost like an early Candlemass tune like “Solitude”… at about six minutes takes off into blast beats, then heads back to the single notes….

Closer “Removed Forms” starts with literally a single note (which reminds me: if you’re not willing to be absolutely patient with this record, don’t bother– it will irritate the shit out of you); the female choral voices that later emerge under the notes remind me of Sunn O)))’s Dømkirke, or the track “Big Church [Megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért*]” from Monoliths & Dimensions. The fifteen minute track very very gradually slows down, the black metal guitars become doom metal riffs become drone notes, as it fades out… the last chord rings for nearly 30 seconds….

Here’s the bottom line, complete with alcohol analogy:

Cold of Ages is a black & tan— it’s the Guinness you  might love (black metal), cut with the Bass you might also love (doom/ drone/ psychedelic metal).

If you don’t like Guinness, you will not enjoy this pint. But if you do? It’s a lovely blend of two pretty different tastes.

Until the 14th, indulge your curiosity at their Bandcamp site, as Bobby Timmons might say, “Right ‘chere:”

*Thank Satan/Buddha/ Vishnu/ God for the cut and paste function.


  1. You said that “Descended Lamentations” is almost 16 minutes in length, but the version released by the band is less than fourteen minutes. Typing mistake, or did they cut off the intro in the promotional release of the track?

    1. After thinking about your comment, it’s not that much doomier, it’s just produced so differently (much “fatter” sound, much more low end) that what might sound like typical “black metal” riffs come off as doomy because of the bombast with which they’re played and heard here.

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