ASHEN CROWN – Obsolescence

ASHEN CROWN – Obsolescence

The momentum, the careful buildup of aggression and hooks, is one of the most essential elements of a great metal album, as is the ability to keep it intact throughout. This British death/groove metal quintet showcases the importance of the momentum by being remarkably inconsistent at it on their debut LP.

"Ashen Crown" is a track from In Mourning’s "Afterglow" (2016) album and it is likely from it that the creators of "Obsolescence" got the inspiration for the bands’s name. Founded by Kieran Scott (vocals), Ste Fowkes (rhythm guitars), Jay Rogers (lead guitars), Phil Milman (bass) and Chris McGrath (drums), in 2016, in West Midlands, England, Ashen Crown were left by the founding drummer but quickly found ample replacement in Mike Ellis. Having released but the "Fall Of Thine Eyes" EP (2017) (3 songs later rerecorded on the full length), Ashen Crown released their, 8 track, debut album, this month.

With most of the tracks osscilating between All Shall Perish, classic post-Reign in Blood, atmospheric Slayer and classic Obituary/Gorefest death metal, Ashen Crown offers few surprises. The first two tracks take a long time to get going, and while the opening "Unbroken Faith" is not bad, the following "Crunsib Sea" smacks of the ancient As I Lay Dying from the predictible and simplistic "Beneath The Encasing Of Ashes". Indeed, Ashen Crown gets very close to that run-off-the-mill metal/core riffing we all love and hate, but fortunately the Bolt Thrower-ic "Ultimatum", a brutal, fast death metal scorcher, opens the album up for greater things, whereby the "Low" through "Demonic" Testament and Machine Head rear their heads. Melody and hooks abound but, it must be said, Ashen Crown are not the greatest songwriters, painstakingly struggling with building up the momentum only to carelessly tear it down.

Where I see the realm of possibilities for them is the closer, "Under The Leaves". Combining latter Death with Hypocrisy-ic epic melodicism Ashen Crown show their sense of melody, balance, harmony and, yes, momentum, with just one song but why they kept the best song for last while struggling throughout all previous 6 tracks is a mystery for the ages. I have to also applaud all individual performances, especially the use of female opera aria vocals (Blood Beneath Us) against the powerful heavy setting, which gives it that epic feeling, all of which would not be possible without the excellent Neil Hudson’s Krysthla at Initiate Audio and Media production.

 Ashen Crown has a lot going for them, a great name, capable musicians and occasionally excellent songwriting, but that this is a debut album is often all too clear. They need more time together, live and in the studio, but there’s a brewing potential if they can hyperfocus on the next effort.