Skagos - Ást review
|Release date:||March 2009|
01. Colossal Spell
02. The Drums Pound Every Night In A Glorious Celebration Of Life
03. Blossoms Will Sprout From The Carcass
04. ...With A Warm Recollection
06. A Night That Ends, As All Nights End, When the Sun Rises
You stand amidst the towering oak trees as they gracefully sway to the swirling gusts of wind. In your hands is your weapon; a sword crafted from the essence of the earth, made to rip through the artificial creations of modern technology. You are the vanguard of the forest, its only protector and its sole savior. To preserve the olden heritage of your ancestors is your mission. When the destructive machinery comes to tear apart the roots of civilization, you will bravely face it. You are an atavist.
That's what Ást is all about; it's a furious scream at the twisted mishaps of our modern world. You can easily feel it resonating throughout this 52 minute fascinating atmospheric black metal journey. On Ást, Skagos favor a less violent black metal sound, opting for a "calmer" and more melodic guitar tone. The tremolo riffs are astoundingly beautiful and enchanting, while the melodies are very hypnotic. Acoustic guitars are used a lot, thus adding a folksy vibe to to the music that is EXTREMELY reminiscent of Agalloch. On the other hand, the drumming is quite standard, with blasts dominating throughout. Moreover, the bass is quite difficult to hear, while the vocals feel a little forced out even though they get the job done well.
Ást doesn't seem to be a masterpiece when it comes to only instrumentation, but it is an opus of black metal in terms of sheer atmosphere, and that's where it shines. Unlike most black metal, Skagos evoke a ritualistic, transcendental soundscape, which feels like attending a series of shamanic rites in the depths of a darkened forest. In addition to that, there's an air of sadness and desperation as the longing clean vocals, the sullen acoustic guitars and the ambient passages weep for the loss of the world. So, generally speaking, Skagos sound very "Cascadian." They retain an ethereal vibe similar to that of Wolves In The Throne Room (even though they sound much less abrasive than them).
For the purpose of the album, the production is top-notch. The "dreamy" textures caused by it perfectly contribute to the excellent atmosphere of Ást. The performance, on the other hand, isn't perfect (especially the drumming), but that doesn't affect the album at all, especially that it's black metal. So, to conclude, we can easily say that Ást is a great atmospheric black metal effort, and its lack of originality is made up for by its bedazzling soundscapes and its intelligent, ecological concept. It is also a very promising album; it's definitely a sign that Skagos can become something big in atmospheric black metal sometime in the future.
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