Black metal duo Ahamkara puts passion, heathen darkness into debut ‘The Embers of the Stars’

AhamkaraSo many records are served up each week, it’s kind of crazy. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it came up again last week in some discussions with a few people about this site. Only one person does this site, and to get to everything and offer critical analysis on each record would be tiresome, taxing, and pointless, so we designate the offerings each week that resonate and make us feel fire in our bellies. Even if that collective we is just accounting for one guy’s belly.

That’s also the case because although I at least sample just about everything sent my way, the amount of things I feel need coverage on this site is actually kind of easy to determine. And funny enough, even with the process in place, there are labels that I always feel what they’re releasing no matter what because they always seem to get it right. That’s why you see most, if not all, things released by labels such as Gilead Media, Profound Lore, and Dark Descent get time, because they always resonate with me, and I, in turn want to share what I feel with you. Another of those labels is Bindrune Recordings, long a personal favorite of mind that always seems able to tap into my love of metal that is mixed generously with nature.

AHamkara coverThe label’s latest find, another venture with Nordvis Produktion, is Ahamkara, a new duo consisting of multi-instrumentalist Michael Blenkarn (Wodensthrone, Hyrye, ex-Axis of Perdition) and vocalist Steve Black that pumps a true heathen sense into their brand of black metal. There is a woodsy, freezing lake feel to all of what’s packed into their massive debut “The Embers of the Stars,” which goes great with the freezing winds I’ve been on about lately. Most importantly, you can hear the band’s metallic passion and spirit pouring out of every corner. It’s inspiring, full of energy, and a burst of awesome savagery that so much of black metal is missing these days.

Opener “Midwinter’s Hymn” is a fitting start to this journey, with winds whipping and the song spilling into a colorful eruption of sound. The creaky shrieks from Black, a welcome trademark of this band, emerge for the first time, and guitars add both volcanic energy and extra texture. The song goes icy cold at one point, with cleaner guitars trickling, and a lush, cloudy portion feeds into a final surge, with blazing fury and a blistering savagery. “On the Shores of Defeat” opens up with misty keyboards, guitars burning, and harsh shrieks capitalizing on the intensity. The melodies are allowed to well up and flood, with animalistic cries exploding, waves of noise crashing down, and a foggy section taking over and adding an element of mystery. The track returns to tumult, of course, with terrifying shrieks destroying any sense of calm and the powerful playing bleeding out into a synth gaze.

“Lamentation of a Wraith” is a chilling title alone, and it pays off with a melodic storm, plucked strings, and great drama that cascades downward. The song feels like a heavy, unforgiving storm, with the basslines bouncing off the shores and the track eventually steamrolling and looking for bodies to mash beneath its gears. Then that gives way to some serenity, with keys creating steam and providing a final rush. Closer “To Invoke the Stars Themselves” is a 14:13 powerhouse, starting with waves lapping and murky music floating along for several minutes before a huge explosion shakes the earth. Vicious cries rip everything open anew, with the thick emotion gripping you and easing you into a jazzy section of water. That segues into heartfelt soloing that’s a big as the sky, passionate caterwauling that aims to carry you away with it, and a fire that keeps building higher and doesn’t subside until the band pulls back, returning their tales to a freshly thawed lake.

Ahamkara comes highly recommended as it is an amazing gust of black metal fury with a nature-rich spirit. The fact the labels involved know what they’re doing should be all the evidence you need anyway, as this band is another incredible find, and “The Embers of the Stars” is a spellbinding record. This band should keep you engaged from front to back and will reward your goodwill with one of the more blood-rushing metal albums you’ll hear this winter.

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