Ashes in Vein
Ashes in Vein
Reviewed By Peter Zischke
Some decent moments, but generally lacking cohesion and direction
Five-piece melodic metallers, Ashes in Vein, formed in 2008 and hail from Junction City, Kansas, USA. Through the lifetime of the band, there have been some periodic hiatuses and the group has reformed with a new line-up comprising original members Tyler Petersen (vocals) and James Swaim (bass/vocals), and new-comers Zach Howard (guitar/back-up vocals), Jackson Hoyle (guitar), and Andrew Calovich (drums). The new offering from the group is the four-track, self-titled EP, Ashes in Vein.
The opening track, “Misery”, starts promisingly with some acoustic work and spoken word, which seems to set the mood for an oncoming onslaught. The ensuing opening riffery and passionate screams from Petersen follow as a really solid start and don’t disappoint. But it’s not too far in that the song changes direction to a degree and the clean vocals kick in. While the guitar work and double-kick of the drums are fast and tight enough and the screamed vocals are as strong as you’d expect, I can’t quite put my finger on what it is that I didn’t like about the clean vocals in “Misery”.
The second track, “Ashes in Vein”, is laid over a melodic riff and the growling vocals hold up well enough, but again, there are these clunky change-ups in tempo and vocal style. I found “Fight” (the third track) just plain confusing generally, even contrived and forced, again particularly in the changes in tempo and vocals. It occurred to me after a few listens that my issue may not be with the clean vocals so much as the way they are integrated into the songs.
The final track, “Until the End of Time”, is the best song on the EP, vocally and musically. The vocal changes here seemed to flow more naturally and musically it just seemed more straight-forward.
The lyrical message on the EP is fairly generic; “struggling against the system” and so on as is the standard battle cry from so many groups. But the overall problem with this one for me is that it just seemed that the band was trying too much in too little space. I have nothing against dynamics or diversity within an album. Some of my most revered albums have attained that status because of their dynamics. But it just feels with Ashes in Vein that there is a sense of doing something because you can, but in the little space available on a four-track EP. This resulted in a collection of songs which overall felt disjointed and which lacked any real cohesion.
However, I did appreciate the production on this effort. By design or otherwise, the EP has a very simple, raw feeling, which I have always been a fan of. Too many things get papered over these days by slick production and dudes sitting behind computers for my liking. The bass could probably get a little more love in the mix, but overall the sound was pretty damn good.
Ashes in Vein have shown that they can do some good things within the metal spectrum. Let’s hope for their sake that they can bring it together with some more focus if/when they release a full-length album.