Second, a reviewer also can’t help but notice that odd album that is completely unexpected and original. That’s exactly what we have in Alight In Ashes, the new album from Canadian duo Menace Ruine on Profound Lore Records.
Profound Lore is always going to give you something good. These days, that’s taken for granted, as I have several friends who will buy everything released by the label. And so it will be with Alight In Ashes. A strange amalgam of folk music, drone/dark ambient, and the harsh guitar tones of nearly wafer thin black metal, the main emphasis of Menace Ruine’s music is the overlay of the clean, harmonic female vocals from Genevieve on top of the droning guitar and muted percussion.
The combination works extremely well, as in the second track “Salamandra,” a wonderfully hypnotic combination of The Doors and Jefferson Airplane as Genevieve’s vocals are a near dead ringer for Grace Slick. A psychedelic journey into an eerie cold, “Salamandra” is easily the stand out track on this six-track album.
Other highlights include the use of what seems to be a distorted cello, an underused instrument in black metal in my opinion, keyboards, and what appears to be a woodwind or brass instrument that I cannot identify. The use of such instruments injects a melancholic sense of mourning and loss, an effect all the more enhanced by the vocals from Genevieve.
As engaging as much of the album is, truth be told, there are a few moments that seem unfocused and overly long with a tendency to meander. These disjointed efforts, which do not work as well, occur in the album’s second half, as the music begins to adopt an overall harsher tone. In addition, although I’ve enjoyed listening to what is obviously a daring release, even for Profound Lore, be forewarned: there’s actually very little about Alight In Ashes that can be readily categorized as metal.
Put plainly, Alight In Ashes is not for the casual listener and only those with a taste for the avant-garde that skirts the edges of black metal are going to fully appreciate what Menace Ruine are about. For those listeners willing to take a chance on a challenging listen, then Alight In Ashes comes strongly recommended.
(released October 2, 2012 on Profound Lore Records)