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Fell Voices / Ash Borer > Ash Borer / Fell Voices > Reviews
Fell Voices / Ash Borer - Ash Borer / Fell Voices

Rising stars of Cascadian BM offer transcendence - 95%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, April 13th, 2013

Two rising acts in the underground black metal scene in North America are featured on this split release. Judging from the cover, I figure this split is in the form of a cassette with Ash Borer occupying one side and Fell Voices on the other. The cassette form is nowhere near as good as CD or some online websites where you can link into uploading tracks but it does have its uses as a cheap and portable storage for various music genres where attention to spotless production is not a premium and a raw primitive sound or a DIY aesthetic is preferred. Perhaps some time in the future when either of these bands is better known, a label may pick up this EP and give it a vinyl or CD release.

Ash Borer's contribution is fast, hard and aggressive with a battery of tremolo guitars, pummelling drums and thin sandpaper vocals filled with hate and anger. For the first five mintues the track is simple for the most part, it's just sheer unadulterated single-minded fury channelled into a storm of BM noise guitar raging across the cosmos. There's an acid bite to the music that gives it a sharp edge. The music changes about the sixth minute into a slower, more melancholic and sorrowful piece with loping drums and voices that sound as much pained and saddened as angry. The rhythm is more complex than at first appears with a hidden thundering bass loop. The piece continues on its moody way with more thunderous percussion and tough and hard-as-nails strings that eventually resume their original race through the fabric of time and space. This is a tremendous piece of music that takes in melancholy and aggression in roughly equal parts.

Fell Voices' side is a dark brooding piece that starts with droning guitar rhythm counterbalanced by a jewel-like pure-toned lead guitar melody. As with Ash Borer's side, there is really excellent drumming to be found here and at times this is privileged above the rest of the music. A dense guitar noise storm unfurls in dense turbulence above the racing rhythms. Vocals tend to be engulfed in the track and appear as a serpentine presence with an acid, poisonous edge that swirls in and out of the music. This is fairly minimalist music that through speed and noise guitar texture creates a trance-like state in the listener's mind. There are at least two significant changes involving changes of key and switching the emphasis from rhythm and lead guitar to bass in the piece. About four or five minutes near the end the musicians themselves appear to enter a heightened level of consciousness and the music takes over their minds and souls: you can really hear the concentration and intensity with which they play, and their minds seem inter-connected to One Mind that directs their playing. How else to explain the incredible focus these guys have, all completely co-ordinated and the music moving as one?

Overall here is excellent music with the right balance of minimal raw ambient black metal and improvisation which enables the musicians to achieve transcendence. The flight into other worlds is breath-taking yet there's a discipline at work which prevents the bands from falling into self-indulgence. The music is always very focussed and never loses sight of its goal.

It seems unfair to say which of the two bands is better - the road to transcendence and connection to One Mind can and should take many varied paths - but for me, Fell Voices have the slight edge with their sound and the more organic nature of the music. Their track really takes on a life of its own and the musicians become channels for another reality to edge into our universe and offer another way of seeing ourselves. This is not to take anything away from Ash Borer's effort which is very inspired and passionate in its own way. This EP is highly recommended for fans of raw and atmospheric Cascadian black metal.

Ash Borer/Fell Voices - Split - 90%

TheSpirit, January 7th, 2011

Although both Ash Borer and Fell Voices have been around since 2008, they didn't earn widespread appreciation until their tours earlier this year. Hailing from Santa Cruz, California's Fell Voices' close association with the Cascadian black metal scene has obviously benefited the group, and their pairing with one of the Cascadian region's rawer projects, Ash Borer could not have been more perfect. Comprising of two fantastic tracks, Ash Borer and Fell Voices' joint effort is just another example of why these two bands are completely dominating the USBM scene.

In one fell swoop, Ash Borer's sole, untitled track essentially shatters the the preconceived notion of what Cascadian black metal can sound like, instead creating a single, complex track. Innovative, dynamic and absolutely enthralling, Ash Borer's use of powerful melodies in abstract song structures keeps the twenty one minute "untitled" track a compelling listen throughout. Exploring many elements over its length, Ash Borer successfully weave their personal brand of Cascadian black metal inspired melodies amongst riffs imbued with both unbridled aggression and skillfully executed dissonance. When it comes to writing a clever transition, guitarists A. and K. certainly get creative; it isn't uncommon to find an extreme change of pace, from hideously fast black metal propelled by furious blast beats and A.'s tortured rasp to slower, strikingly melodic drone-infused black metal. Showing a strong relationship with their roots while displaying a roughened edge that makes them all the more appealing, Ash Borer's ascension into the upper echelons of the USBM scene was not only inevitable, as "untitled" exhibits, it was well-deserved.

Following up from their amazing 2009 full-length, Fell Voices once again deliver the very best drone -influenced black metal the United States has to offer. Using repetition to their advantage, Fell Voices ability to compose material that is both long yet interesting has improved a great deal from their self-titled debut album.. Once again led by the fantastic drumming of a man simply known as Mike, both guitarist Tucker and bassist/vocalists Joseph's repeating chords never tire, taking their own time to unravel, and betray all the keen melodic progressions hidden within the music's undercurrent. Simple, melodic, yet gripping when Tucker goes all out, his one of a kind guitar tone, perfectly highlights the dense rumbling of Joseph's atmospheric bass playing. All of this is fueled by Mike's tumultuous drumming, which is always truly an unpredictable but never disappointing element to the music.

With 2010 providing a wealth of amazing black metal releases, the Ash Borer/Fell Voices union's success in light of such competition really stands as irrefutable proof of the immense talent these bands possess. Both splendidly diverse while still having just enough in common to accompany each other comfortably, both Ash Borer and Fell Voices have easily crafted a split that will officially herald their positions as two of black metal's best bands.