The sins of imperialism still haunt the globe—manifesting in a wide and damning array of issues both historical and current—and few nations have quite so much blood on their hands as the British Empire. Even as ships sailed for glory and the upper classes stuffed their coffers with exotic spices and gold, untold numbers suffered and were slaughtered for those riches. At home, the British working class and the poor lived short, hellish lives choked by smoke and dust. The wretched horrors of the mills, the rampant disease, the lure of opium, the gut-wrenching misery—that's the world that Ashenspire's new album, Speak Not of The Laudanum Quandary, was born into, and one that's far scarier and more depraved than the usual extreme metal lyric fodder.
As fascinating (and poetic) as the lyrics themselves are, the music deserves ample attention, too. Ashenspire's approach to black-ish metal is odd, and proggy, and experimental in vaguely the same vein as bands like Code, Dødheimsgard, or A Forest of Stars, without the latter's psychedelic leanings and with more than a hair's worth of industrial strangeness. It's got an unexpected Primordial vibe, too, in terms of the grandiose, soaring melodies and often heartfelt, sometimes histrionic vocals rising up from amidst the album's more out-there moments. The vocals—which come courtesy of one Alasdair Dunn—are delivered with righteous outrage in a sort of imperious singsong, clean and commanding.
Listen to Speak Not of The Laudanum Quandary for yourself below, and look for it from Code666 Records come January 20.
Kim Kelly is coughing up blood on Twitter.