Pestilent Hex – Ashen Abhorrence

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Finnish renowned black metal veterans L.L. (all instruments), and M.M. (Vocals and lyrics) present their symphonic oeuvre under the moniker of Pestilent Hex. The debut album “Ashen Abhorrence” finds its way into the magical hallmarks of melodic/symphonic black metal of the early nineties. The Finnish duo delivers an excellent performance of musical work that makes its debut as one of the finest albums of the year 2022. There are plenty of similarities that illustrate the style of Obtained Enslavement albums “Witchcraft” and “Soulblight” which recreates the same magical feel.

The opening track “Chapter 1: The Ashen Abhorrence” evokes an epic style of black metal. The driven melodies are in the vein of bands like Thy Serpent and Dimmu Borgir. Pestilent Hex has an ancient symphonic sound, high-pitched vocals, guitar melodies, and sweeping synth give us an epic symphonic nature. On the other hand, the song arrangements burst with superb quality. In this grand odyssey, the duo provides the most compelling aspect of melodic black metal. For example the following track “Chapter II: Nature of the Spirit” explores the darkest elements of the neoclassical elements. While this song is a bit aggressive, the guitars and the synth carries the listener into a melodic voyage. Fast-paced riffs and thundering percussion creates a melodramatic scale out of the music, “The Ashen Abhorrence” borders on the symphonic aesthetics of the prime Scandinavian black metal, and the excellent musicianship becomes quite notable.

The frequent use of beautiful piano passages empowers the melody with the lead guitars and blast beats showing the unique methods of composing catchy songs. “Chapter III: Mephistophelean Liaison” sets a darker tone through the melodic swoops. The song’s best moments come from the interplay of the piano while the guitars overflow with subtle tremolos the song arrangements are chock-full of elegant orchestration. The duo offers a grand palate, while more often the drumming pace ranging from blast beats to mid-tempo. The superb mix of piano and melodic guitar textures offers the perfect backdrop for the drums. Pestilent Hex approaches the songwriting by incorporating neoclassical elements the use of the piano instrument provides a rather gothic feeling to the music.

Similarly, the instrumental cut “Chapter IV: Interlude – Mists of Oneiros” takes the neoclassical elements as the core of the music. The six tracks on the album sound truly wicked and aggressive. Alongside these menacing and hateful vocals, the music is always changing that seem at once dark and twisted. On repeated listens, the debut album feels refreshing and has a very medieval atmosphere that brings the charm of classic black metal. Each song follows a certain theme delivering exuberant melodic patterns. If you are into the second wave of black metal bands you are likely to sense a majestic quality to the music.

More of the magical composition is revealed in “Chapter V: Old Hag” which includes plenty of rich symphonic textures well-crafted riffs and furious drums setting an aggressive tempo. The song consists of lead guitars where the baroque classic style merges with the melodic black metal aggression. The melody of the synthesizer works as a great counterpoint to the guitar riffs, and at the same time, the guitars provide hooks. “The Ashen Abhorrence” isn’t quite stripped from the modern age of black metal music, instead the sound production and the mixing offer density to the instrumentation.

Pestilent Hex displays creative ideas where the dark gothic themes unfurling hints of old Dimmu Borgir albums like “Stormblast”. In the duo’s debut album the themes never stray from the classic multilayered arrangements of synth textures, and shimmering guitars. The final track “Chapter VI: Banishment” spans almost nine minutes, and musically, it ticks all the boxes in fusing classic elements. The guitars, drums, and high-pitched vocals are brought to perfection to create a multilayered theatrical drama of melodicism. Almost all guitar riffs are as sharp as the splinters and woven in a somewhat atmospheric vibe that makes an intricate counterpoint to the drumming pace. It feels natural how the guitar riffs flow smoothly with the synthesizer to enhance the richness of the composition. Offering more focus on aggression and symphonic breadth thus resulting in something majestic.

REVIEW SCORE

  • Music / Songwriting 8/10
  • Vocals / Lyrics 8/10
  • Mix / Production 9/10
  • Artwork & Packaging 10/10
  • Originality 8/10
8.6

“The Ashen Abhorrence” is full of wicked melodies, which deliver awe-inspiring symphonies making it one of the unique albums in black metal this year.

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