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Cover art for Ascetic Eventide by Pure Wrath.

Atmospheric black metal’s roots lay deeply entrenched in nature. Historically, its themes, both lyrical and musical, have often revolved around the swelling seas, the lashing winds, and the majesty of mountains. Although most of the time these elements (heh) bring to mind a barren, frozen, distinctly Scandinavian landscape, it’s all the more gratifying when the genre sprouts up someplace far away. Pure Wrath, a solo atmospheric black metal project from the mind of Januaryo Hardy, hails from Indonesia — a hemisphere away from black metal’s frosty origins. And yet upon hearing full-length debut “Ascetic Eventide,” you’ll find the same reverence for the powerful sublimity of nature, its full palette colorfully represented in every song.

If Pure Wrath channels the raw, indifferent force of Mother Nature’s fury, then “Ascetic Eventide” captures its essence and puts it in terms we can understand — driving purpose, thundering rhythms, and breathtaking melody.

If Pure Wrath channels the raw, indifferent force of Mother Nature’s fury, then “Ascetic Eventide” captures its essence and puts it in terms we can understand — driving purpose, thundering rhythms, and breathtaking melody. You’ve got moments of electrifying energy, like the sudden gust of Coloured Grassland that sweeps you off your feet into a rippling current of cracking blasts, or the forceful closer Between Water and Winds that hits with gale force. But you also have moments of profound tranquility, like stumbling upon a sense of aching nostalgia, even among a vortex of frenzied riffing, in Mountain Calls. Pure Wrath harnesses the power of each instrument within the album’s ebb and flow, including a host of strings, flutes, and pianos that occasionally break through the hazy torrents of guitars like sunrays bursting through clouds. You can almost smell the damp, earthy soil after the piano outro in Clouds Retiring.

Pure Wrath's mastermind, Januaryo Hardy, stands amid tall grass against a cloudy sky.I’m always fascinated by when bands dive into genres that have strong cultural identities. Imitating the icy winds of the North when you come from a more temperate clime can create a stark, sometimes awkward contrast. Native ethnic elements and instrumentation are often laid on thick because it’s the only way to stand out. But Pure Wrath proves you don’t have to, not when you can write compelling, evocative melodies with such confidence and grace.

The direction of the songs rarely surprised me — I didn’t need a weather app to know I was going to hit that storm wall of blasting drums and whirring riffs within most songs’ opening seconds — but that’s more a critique of the genre itself. “Ascetic Eventide” doesn’t advance atmospheric black metal in any way, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the more memorable releases within that genre I’ve heard in a long time.

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Author:

Eric Seal Eric Seal is the head writer at MostlyMetalDad.com. He used to think 'Hellbilly Deluxe’ was a scary album, but he's proud to say he listens to much scarier music now.