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I had rather bad feelings about the album from Asaru, because at certain time their label Schwarzdorn has never been able to impress me with their releases, except only one great exception of Svarttjern’s debut CD, which was a real killer and a nice surprise. But everything else, what I listened to from this label was… shit. Yeah, I mean all that crap like Cerberus or Uhrilehto… Such albums made me lose my interest completely in Schwarzdorn, luckily though I got promo copies of Asaru’s “From the Chasms of Oblivion” along with excellent Fortid’s fourth album “Pagan Prophecies” and both CDs made a huge impression on me. Maybe it was because I didn’t have big expectations from them or maybe just Schwarzdorn learned to pick up only interesting stuff to release… Whatever the reason, I have really enjoyed both CDs. Here in this review I would like to write some words about Asaru and “From the Chasms of Oblivion”… Well, I have never actually heard of this band before, even though they’ve been formed back in the mid 90’s and released some demos and one full length album (“Dead Eyes Still See” in 2009) before “From the Chasms of Oblivion”. The band has actually split up for a while, when its leader Frank Nordmann (what a suitable surname) moved over to Norway, but reformed Asaru there and quickly recorded two albums. It’s good he’s done that, definitely because - as I already mentioned before - I’m quite impressed with the work Asaru did on “From the Chasms of Oblivion”.
This album is definitely a fine piece of black metal. It is very well composed, arranged and also performed and recorded, so I cannot say anything bad about it, really. I like the music a lot, its diversity, the atmosphere and feeling, as well as the production… Diversity is one of the main keys for “From the Chasms of Oblivion” brilliance, I think. The basis of this music is in the Scandinavian black metal, I think that it’s mainly influenced by the Swedish bands such as Dissection, Sacramentum, Naglfar and all this sort of harmonious but also vicious and aggressive black metal bands. But many parts of “From the Chasms of Oblivion” remind me also the Norwegian scene, for its harshness and cold atmosphere and here I can mention such bands as Odium (especially vocal wise Asaru has a resemblance to them), Ragnarok or a bit of Troll, if you take the symphonic part away… and maybe even a bit of good old Gehenna. Now take some parts of all these bands, put them together, but with the stronger accent on the melodic, harsh and aggressive black metal and you’ll have “From the Chasms of Oblivion”. Nothing new, I know, but I can admit that Asaru did just good job here, coming up with several awesome songs and many truly killer riffs and ideas.
I really like that together with many fast as hell and vicious parts, you can find here also many more melodic and harmonious fragments and some, which have more… hmm, how should I say, maybe more developed and complex structures, with great playing of guitars, lots of leads, harmonies, so it’s not just plain and simple black metal. At times, like in “At Night They Fly” it seems like there are even some heavy metal influences in this music, but what I like a lot about it is that even if there is more melodic part it doesn’t feel too soft or polite and there’s always room for aggression, faster playing and grim, sinister atmosphere. In song like “Under the Flag” they remind me such bands as Odium, I don’t know how many of you would remember this Norwegian bands, but style wise, production wise and with the vocals Asaru is quite close to them. Then such tracks as “The Eyes of the Dead” will from one hand shred you with many impressively aggressive parts, but they also have very nice, fairly melodic, sort of melancholic finish, which sound like Naglfar. I really like the songwriting from this album; all songs have something killer and interesting to offer and it would be damn difficult to pick up just one or two songs and call them the best ones from the whole album, as it’s very even and well performed in its entirety. Hmm, maybe I should mention especially “At Night They Fly” and “World On Fire”? Or maybe it is “Fortapt I Dødens Favn”, which sounds like an old Norwegian black metal anthem, close to the early Dimmu Borgir for instance – it even has Norwegian lyrics – and man, it is fuckin awesome song!!!!!!! All in all “From the Chasms of Oblivion” contains almost an hour of incredibly brilliant music. It definitely is one of the biggest surprises I’ve heard recently and so I must recommend this album to all of you, who like more melodic black metal.
Standout tracks: “The Eyes of the Dead”, “At Night They Fly”, “World On Fire”, “Fortapt I Dødens Favn”
Final rate: 80/100
The very existence of many black metal bands is definitely not a long and quiet river. Through numerous line-up changes, multiple parallel projects and other adventures, maintain a coherent artistic vision (and motivation to continue) implies a titanic effort. The fate of German band Asaru is quite exemplary. Founded in Hesse during the 1990s, it experienced a promising career debut despite intense line-up modifications, which slowed its progression. In addition, Frank Nordmann, band founder, was also Agathodaimon’s guitarist and vocalist, whose reputation also flourished during this period. This first turbulent era ends in 2007 with the relocation of Nordmann in Oslo, despite Asaru’s recording of its first full-lenght, that was not released then.
It’s finally ARTicaz that launched Dead Eyes Still See two years later, when Nordmann decided to reform Asaru with new musicians. Now nestled in the lap of Schwarzdorn production, the trio rages again this year with From the Chasms of Oblivion. Beware: heavy stuff ahead.
Swedish black metal influence on Asaru’s music is totally obvious and encrusts every song. Compositions inevitably evoke this characteristic blend of black and melodic death that made Dissection such a legendary band. Thus, through rough songs comparable to Dark Funeral and Hypocrisy early work, there are numerous harmonic passages, which develop a more accessible dimension, brief moments of respite in the hurricane’s eye. However, heart of the album is based on a speed / brutality combo, particularly on "The Eyes of the Dead", "Fortapt I Dødens Favn" and "Bonds Beyond Time" and its classy thrashy riffs. Production is also well-rounded and weighty, which highlights the band’s practiced style.
Nevertheless, I regret an approach maybe a little too cautious adopted by Asaru for its song writing. Even remarkably well constructed and interpreted, their songs lack a little something that a man like Jon Nödtveidt managed to give to its compositions, which gave them a unique feeling. But I’m maybe too demanding.
Anyone who appreciates music tacking between black and death metal borders will be admirably pleased by this album. Effective, direct, while remaining accessible, From the Chasms of Oblivion proves that a chaotic journey does not necessarily alter a group’s creative potential.
Originally written for Métal Obscur.