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***When ASHBRINGER's Yūgen came out, Jon Rosenthal over at Invisible Oranges categorized it as atmospheric black metal but said he liked it, in part, because it's an 'emo record at heart.' Even though he cited it as a positive, those could just as easily be fighting words. If I hadn't heard the album before I read that, I might have kept right on going. But it's actually fair, and it's not a bad thing, either. Ashbringer's first full-length, Vacant, was done by NICK STANGER alone, and it's a solid atmospheric black metal album. With Yūgen, Stanger has expanded the project to a full five piece (with the occasional guest), and with it, the project's sound has expanded and changed. The music is now bigger, heart-on-its-sleeve, bombastic black metal. The vocals are well within the fuzzy boundaries of black metal shrieks, but they also teeter just on the edge of breaking, not unlike...well, emo vocals. But it works, and I don't think you have to be in any way a fan of emo to enjoy this. It doesn't hurt that Stanger and co. are riff machines. There's plenty of tremolo'd goodness, like in 'Lakeside Meditation,' but they're also masters at creating single-line riffs that will get stuck in your head...”—metalbandcamp. Originally released on CD by Avantgarde Music.

2XLP $20.95



***"Naturalistic black metal that demonstrates an impressive degree of compositional confidence and control of dynamics, concept, and flow, resulting in a rich and immersive album with a lot of depth. A remarkable accomplishment by anyone."

LP $14.75