Monday, April 5, 2010

ASH POOL "FOR WHICH HE PLIES THE LASH" (Hospital Productions/Tour de Garde)

Dominick Fernow shows off his record collecting chops on Ash Pool's second congealed mess of underground influences. I came into this expecting to like it way more than i did and was sorely disappointed to discover it a simple run-through of black metal conventions as filtered through the ears of an extremely knowledgeable fanatic. Everything is in its place and at its absolute best this record achieves a stunning meld of frantic hyper-raw crust-riffing with twisted pop conventions, but those moments are few and far between, bookended between rote Slayer-isms and substandard hardcore breakdowns. To borrow a term from my friend Ben's Burger King days, this is an "unacceptable blowout."
If Ash Pool had whittled this down to a seven inch consisting of three songs-"Holocaust Temple," "A Sacrifice Consumed By Fire" and the moronically titled "Big Bang Black Metal"-it would have been a certifiable masterpiece. Taken together those three songs represent Fernow's ability to assimilate a wealth of influences into a gripping and intense series of white-hot black metal firestorms, feverishly fast and running off the fucking rails with a few gorgeously melodic darkwave styled pop progressions thrown in. Within that opening tryptich a necromantic enchantment seems to be at work, a sort of blushing blood charm that sucks you in and makes you forget that oh yeah, you heard that riff on an Urfaust record five fucking years ago. It works because it's damn catchy. If Fernow could edit himself a little better he'd be sitting on top of an enviably quality discography (albeit short on runtime) instead of a monument to mediocrity.
The rest of this album is lame. Beyond those three outstanding songs this is just an ocean of boredom that falls victim to the same shortcomings evinced on its predecessor, "World Turns On Its Hinge." Almost every riff is a regurgitation of Slayer with a twist of Sick of it All, pointless hardcore chromaticism and overextended ambition. Fenrow's lyrical explorations of sadomasochism, misogyny, sadness and sexual deviance-which he puts forth beautifully in his work as Prurient-fall flat here and seem almost laughable, without the appropriately hopeless music behind them to lend weight. Instead you get some basement dweller trying to be offensive and extreme without any cause to be so and without the intellectual trappings and backgrounds to make it seem real. "For Which He Plies the Lash" is a ghost of black metal, a whispered rumour of what might have been before the weight of tedium began to bear down. I'd like to hear more from Fenrow in this guise if he could take the time necessary to repeat the quality of the first three tracks-few black metal musicians have been so effectively able to marry pop convention with underground extremity-but if the quality control isn't amped up then this is doomed to be an overhyped project releasing records on underground boutique labels without much real merit.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great review...also seems to be the general consensus about this album, from what I've heard at least.