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Excellent Drudkh worship - 90%

Noktorn, March 12th, 2009

My opinion of this album really announces my complete hypocrisy to the world, because I appreciate this for the exact things I insult Drudkh for. 'Glare Of Autumn' is an almost note-for-note cloning of 'Autumn Aurora'-era Drudkh, and for some reason I like it a lot despite its resemblance to one of the most overrated bands in black metal history. I could argue that Ax somehow does the formula better, but it would require some serious logical acrobatics. I guess I'll start stretching now.

Ax on this EP plays a droning and ambient variety of black metal exactly like what Drudkh explores on their works, but does it a hell of a lot better. The tracks on this EP are simple and extremely repetitive, but Ax has the masterful sense of pacing and dynamics that turn would-be boring tracks into something hypnotizing and compelling. The shimmering high chords of Drudkh riffs are given a great deal more sway and motion through an awesomely subtle and dynamic drum performance packed with warmth and variation through the human element of playing. The riffs are uniformly melodic, folky, and highly distorted in a near shoegaze dimension of the word, and the whole guitar package seems almost ridiculously intact and singular in nature. The production is part of what makes this so great: it's enormously rich, with a perfectly realized guitar tone and great tonal representation across the board.

'Solstice Of Despair' is certainly the best track on here; it has far and away the best riffs, though few in number and sparse in construction. The shimmering texture of hi-hat and droning power chords makes for an instantly memorable and hopelessly hypnotic listening experience, and I'd rank it among the very best tracks I've heard in this particular style of black metal. 'October Winds' is an extremely strong opener in the same vein as the closing track, and even little ambient guitar play 'Autumnal Equinox' is fantastic through the excruciating amount of layers present on it. The music on this EP practically defines 'less is more', but moreover, manages to do more with elements I thought were a complete waste in the past.

I can't really recommend this to those who love ambient black metal but despise Drudkh, as I'm not sure if my enjoyment of this EP is more fluke or if there's something here that's genuinely different from that better-known artist. Either way, it's fantastic music and I encourage all black metal fans to give this disc a spin, especially all those already whetted to this style of black metal. It's not doing anything new, but it damn near comes close to doing old things perfectly.