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This Album Demands To Be Heard! - 85%

dmpjackson, February 11th, 2010

Coming out of absolutely nowhere in 1992 are the might Entropy with this excellent debut. I had heard about this awhile back, but had trouble finding a copy. When I finally obtained it, I was immediately hooked. With how fantastic it is, it seems absolutely criminal that very few have ever heard it!

This is a true thrash album through and through. It features crunchy guitar riffs played at extremely fast speeds, rough vocals, and monster fills and double-kick drums aplenty. While that may seem rather ordinary, it features just a few death metal influences that lends gives it a flavor all its own. The vocalist has an incredibly varied range. He can unleash semi-high wails, low rumbling growls, and even deep, throaty death metal vocals. It is not uncommon for the listener to experience these all within one song.

The drummer also has some serious chops. He never lets up on the intensity and always offers some double-bass mastery and impressive fills that really add to the overall heaviness of the album. Even during the softer ballad-y parts, he shows impressive command. Occasionally he will through in some ultra-heavy blast beats. I am not a big fan of blast beats, but this guy manages to integrate them into the thrashing quite well.

The guitar work is as equally as impressive. The guitars have a very satisfying crunch, and they never sound sloppy, even when blasting away at insane speeds. The lead tone is also very good, it is overdriven to ridiculous levels, but the solos themselves seem rather ordinary. This doesn't mean they are bad, just simply unimaginative.

The production is excellent. Every instrument is very clear in the mix, with the exception of the bass. Where the guitars and vocals sound very good, the drums are absolutely crushing! The snare has a good snap to it and the hi-hat is nice and splashy, but the real appeal is the double-bass drums and the toms. They have such a rich rumble to them that adds greatly to the overall feel.

Good production is important, but the quality of the songs is what really makes an album, and Ashen Existence delivers in spades. Every song is distinct and leaves a lasting impression. The songs are all rather long, but they never get boring. They go from riff to riff, never letting up on the intensity. Once you think you know the structure of the song, they go off in a whole new direction. This creates an exciting dynamic to the song craft. The lyrics are thought provoking, if you can understand them, and the varied singing styles prevent monotony. The band is also not afraid to mix in some acoustic or clean electric parts to create some nice ballad like textures to the songs. The song Psionic Dissection is a bit of a curiosity, as it is full-on death metal tune. Thrash purists may find this to be a major annoyance, but I believe it adds to the variety that is present on the album.

This is an excellent album. The guitars are fast and brutal, the vocals are insane, and the drumming is tight and thunderous. They remind me of Vio-lence just a bit, but they have such a unique style that is new and refreshing. If you happen to come across this album, grab it! You won't regret it.