Golden Ashes - In The Lugubrious Silence Of Eternal Night [Oaken Palace Records/Kapmes Records - 2020]
The blending of any sub-genre of extreme metal with experimental electronics has always been a moot & controversial issue with me. In the 90s, many bands tried to make these crossbreeds. Some of these were complete failures, others radically changed their style, or generally lessened the power/ impact of their sound. Largely these blends concerned mixing metal with a rather simplified version of industrial music. One of the more successful project was from Gnaw Their Tongues the one man project of Dutch musician Maurice de Jong - who combined black metal with a large number of genres of extreme experimental music - industrial, noise, dark ambient, and drone. The discography of the project has more than fifty different releases in in. In parallel with Gnaw Their Tongues, De Jong is connected to a few other projects, that also mix various musical genres. One such project is Golden Ashes, in which he's experimenting with atmospheric Black Metal and Ambient. The project started in 2018 and has thus far released two EPs and two full-length albums, the most recent was released this year on the British label Oaken Palace Records. The album, entitled In The Lugubrious Silence Of Eternal Night- appearing as either a vinyl LP or digital download digital format- though it’s also been released a CD on De Jong’s own label Kapmes Records.
The cover is a photograph of sunlight breaks through heavy and gloomy clouds, creating a kind corridor of light. This image is made in black and yellow colors, which gives a feeling of a golden glow. Closer to the bottom of the cover, the overall color changes to the black part, here the bands name appears, made in a rather simple printed font of dirty yellow color. Below is the title of the album made in Gothic font of the same color, but smaller. I find this cover quite successful and atmospheric. It may contain a double meaning. It can be the absorption of light by darkness and vice versa - light conquers darkness. I think it all depends on the mood of the person who is looking at this cover. It is worth saying that the cover is made in the style of the previous two releases, which indicates continuity and conceptual component. Also, in my opinion, this cover is ideally suited to the musical part of the album.Sergey Pakhomov
The release, with a total duration of a little less than thirty-six minutes, consists of eight tracks of approximately the same duration. With In The Lugubrious Silence Of Eternal Night, Golden Ashes presents us with high-speed black metal with a focus on atmospheric and keyboard parts. Guitars play a supporting role here, creating a droning background for the airy and melodic keys which are the main instrument. These are saturated, airy, and atmospheric passages filled with reverb and delay. Keyboard parts lead the mainline, reproducing rather interesting melodies close to neo-classical, and also support the general sound with harmonious combinations of chords. Sometimes the saturation of these sounds is so great that everything merges into a powerful wall of sound, creating the effect of complete immersion in music. Percussion parts support the general atmosphere, bringing in their speed the effect of flying through the soundscapes of the compositions. As for the sound quality of the drums, it is a bit pushed into the background. Nevertheless, this part is audible, although sometimes it is overlapped by a common rich sound. The vocals of Maurice de Jong are typical Black Metal, but have been removed from the foreground and processed by reverb effects, which very harmoniously weave the vocal part into the overall sound of the album. I can’t say that the compositional component of the tracks is very complicated, however, for tracks lasting about five minutes this is not required, given that the musical concept of the project focuses on other things. Despite the very positive impressions of the album as a whole, it seemed to me that a few moments in the compositions turned out to be not very expressive and blurred in perception. However, this is my personal opinion.
I can only compare the general Golden Ashes sound with one other project – that’s Parnassus of the Swedish musician Fredrik Soderlund, better known as a member of Octinomos and Puissance. To be honest, Parnassus is for me the standard of atmospheric black metal. But, given the fact that this project ceased to exist in the late 90s,I didn't think I'd hear something similar. Golden Ashes offer us a similar sublime atmosphere with great emphasis on keyboard parts played in the neo-classical style. Light and airy atmosphere, nevertheless saturated with something dark and mystical. I think that Golden Ashes has taken up a fairly original take on black metal, combining neoclassical, ambient, and light drone with high-speed rhythmic parts. I’ll now closely follow the new works of Maurice de Jong connecting to this project. And, I think that I'm not the only one who will do this.