- Review by Faye Coulman
REVIEWED: Asagraum - 'Dawn of Infinite Fire'
As far as listening experiences go, nothing quite compares to the deliciously visceral and frostbitten pleasures of black metal. Residing, like some prized and glistening obsidian gem, within the most grimly inhospitable, furthermost reaches of the extreme metal spectrum, precious few subgenres so thoroughly bristle with hostility, chill the blood and ignite the spirit more utterly than this wondrously violent and haunting variant. So when we encounter a band whose every ripping, meticulously engineered move not only oozes the quintessential essence of the genre, but also seems to further sharpen and amplify these iconic trappings, such a discovery is always a rare delight to jaded ears. Enter Dutch hellraisers Asagraum...
All scalding, frantically accelerating momentum, hammering brutality and tautly manipulated technical detail, this freshly-forged collective display a presence and calibre of musicianship many bands spend entire careers fruitlessly chasing. Numbering the infernal circle’s second long-player to date since setting down founding roots just four years ago, ‘Dawn of Infinite Fire’ is every bit as fierce and unrelenting a record as its title might suggest. And from craggy strains of raggedly abrasive tremolo and sulfurous shrieks through to sultry layerings of sinewy bass groove, this is a record thoroughly steeped in the iconic trappings of its genre-defining second wave predecessors.
Exploding into life like an infernal beast let loose from the deepest bowels of the abyss, brutalising opener ‘They Crawl From The Broken Circle’ makes for a joyously energised and vicious statement of intent, its weightily pulverising throes gathering ripping momentum beneath intricately twisted strains of thorny, ink-black tremolo. Progressing and expanding out into meticulously sculpted lines of fretwork whose snaking, finely angular accents glimmer with lethal, frostbitten beauty, this intelligently penned offering blends scalding aggression and calculating complexity of design to electrifying effect. From here, the vicious, intensely venomous overriding character of the record is firmly and decisively established, its every jagged, ink-black edge and corner sharp as a scalpel and darkly scorched with brimstone.
That said, Asagraum equally excel in injecting generous measures of unique character and ingenuity into each and every meticulously crafted composition contained within this deliciously diabolical body of work. Take, for instance, the sultry lashings of churning, Satyricon-esque groove that, like the darkest strains of meticulously spun silk, abound in the coldly abrasive throes of ‘Guahaihoque’. Or the meditative layerings of distortion that, through various deathly, endlessly whirling configurations, add a coldly immersive richness of sound to mesmerising standout ‘Beyond The Black Vortex’.
With unrelenting energy and blistering aggression in spades, ‘Dawn of Infinite Fire’ is a record you will love unreservedly from the very first listen. And from gnarly, harrowing lines of wintry tremolo to the deepest of coldly introspective atmospherics, few artists combine scorching, breakneck aggression and cold-blooded atmospherics to such relentlessly compelling effect.
'Dawn of Infinite Fire' is out now on Edged Circle Productions