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As a person who struggles to balance time between doing the different things I like, I hold an immense admiration for musicians who are involved in multiple projects at once. And I’m not talking about having multiple bedroom projects either. I’m talking about people like Dan Swano and Rogga Johannson who manage to consistently release quality albums at an alarmingly fast rate. One such person whose work I stumbled upon late last year is the Swedish multi-instrumentalist Johnny Pettersson ( Henry Kane, Wombbath, Gods Forsaken, Human Harvest, Just Before Dawn etc; you get the idea). Ashcloud is his partnership with Body Harvest guitarist Gareth Nash and this project has been going strong since 2013, having released 2 albums in the past two years. ‘Kingdom of the Damned’ is the band’s latest release on Xtreem Music and this is an album that adheres strongly to the old school Swedish death metal sound, while giving the music a fresh perspective.

In the 41 minute run time of this record, not a single second feels redundant and the songwriting is on point to deliver rib-crushing impact.

There are different aspects to Ashcloud’s sound that elevates them from being a straight-forward death metal act. First and foremost there is the raw, cavernous guitar tone and as a by product, you get a dense, almost crusty atmosphere that permeates this record. On top of that, Ashcloud add a layer of subtle melody that keeps one hooked without detracting from the abrasiveness of it all. All these elements at play are made apparent right from the get go in the brilliant opener Among the Grotesque. The influence of old school Swedish bands like Dismember and Grave, is proudly exhibited by the band. It’s almost as if the band is confident in not sounding derivative and they have absolutely every right to feel that way.

AshcloudIn the 41 minute run time of this record, not a single second feels redundant and the songwriting is on point to deliver rib-crushing impact. The way Ashcloud pull this off is by the intelligent use of melody and a constant variation in the rhythm and tempo that keeps one’s ears glued to the riffs. Tracks like The Serpent King and The Seven Trumpets of Hell go so far as to subtly infuse moments of cleaner atmospheric clarity to add a dynamic quality to the music. The reverb effect is used in a measured fashion throughout the album and this in tandem with the raw, cavernous tone of music works wonders. The dual vocals of low growls and mid snarls also offer engaging variety. The lead guitar work is not ashamed of flamboyancy and the solos clearly show inspiration from traditional heavy metal.

The problem I have with a lot of bands that go the old school death metal way is that not a lot of it is very memorable. That is definitely not an issue here with Ashcloud. The dynamic duo here ensure that ‘Kingdom of the Damned’ is one of the most memorable death metal releases this year with just the right dash of melody to keep things interesting. With this release the band continues it’s triumphant run of kick-ass releases and I for one will keep my ear tuned for more from these guys.

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Shrivatsan R Dreamer with an appetite for extreme music who probably doesn’t like you already (unless you’re a dog). Obsessed with grindcore, death metal and all things experimental. Head honcho at Metal Gallows (