yügen

by ASHBRINGER

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1.
solace 10:40
A mist enshrouds my body Insulating self illusions A sudden disconnect From willful ignorance I wander aimlessly Under grey skies Submerging into My most inner laments The sight of blood overwhelms me Seeping from my hands to the dirt Ideals are vanishing before me Into a void far out of reach Becoming self aware Regretting everything Dysphoria overtakes me Regression spirals In solace, I dream infinitely Landscapes dissolve around me Merging into a shrine of loss Frailness becomes apparent Collapsing under weight Celestial signs appear Moonlight illuminating The deepest depths Of the grieving world I left behind In solace, I dream infinitely Of the grieving world I left behind In shame, dreams become waste Carve my epitaph here
2.
oceans apart 05:05
Lying alone on the shore Beaten, bruised, and exhausted Solemnly waiting in silence Etching your name in the sand As radiant as the sun I can feel you From many oceans away Drifting further I’ve waited so long For just one moment I’ve waited so long To see you again And I’ll wait forever The waters rise Grains of sand bind The oceans become Crystal clear Lying alone on the shore Disoriented and ashamed I saw a light It wasn’t you
3.
Here again I couldn’t bear to see Another souvenir Empty and vast This is it The place I imagined I can feel a spiritual presence So faint but somehow familiar The wind caresses me gently The scent of spring reawakens I am left here To contemplate my place To determine my role In this infinite vastness Still… Silence in the distance No shelter for miles Stillness lingers Beyond my senses No, I no longer feel bound “Follow” The waters beckon again Horizons blur “Behold” Spirits reside here My feet ascend
4.
Standing here alone with you In an unfamiliar place Souls intertwined Every part of me exposed I never walked barefooted I never searched for answers I never forged my own path I never sought a meaning It always seemed the same, the earth could never be tamed I couldn’t wash it away, the shame is here to stay I hate the thought of your voice, in every possible way Because I can’t remember what it sounds like Clinging to fading images In remembrance of you I watched the light fade from your eyes Like the sun becoming sand I watched you draw your last breath In harmony with the morning breeze I watched the life fade from your eyes I stood breathless As you drew your last breath I witnessed your departure Standing here alone with you In an unfamiliar place Souls intertwined… ...In remembrance of you
5.
Mind and body are one Body and earth are one Earth and sky are one Sky and spirit are one Here I stand at the threshold of existence Falling deeper into my subconscious Despite the loneliness I felt It seems a distant memory now I close my eyes and I can see The birth of stars and their constellations I can feel the energy surging From the sun into my veins “Dreamer, I can still feel your presence” I became emotion I became serenity I can sense eternity In my own reality I became peace I became chaos And for the first time I felt balance Faller, did you feel the weight of the world? Because I watched it all collapse I stand before the earth Unafraid and unashamed Mind and body are one Body and earth are one Earth and sky are one Sky and spirit are one
6.
yügen 06:43
Life begins anew In infinite vastness Abundant energy Eternal meditation Life ceases Time halts Earth and sky merge Becoming transparent Temporal transcendence Immortal embodiment In tranquility Dreams become reality
7.
omen 02:47
8.
I had never felt so helpless Watching my decay The scars were hidden too long And could never be healed I had never felt so lonesome Yearning for a connection Searching for a reaction Raising my voice with no resonance But then the shadows dissolved I felt the gentle caress of the rain All matter merged into one I found myself in the universe I watched life and death intertwine And vanish before me I became the fabric of light And I embraced the world Bleeding into one Fading endlessly Merging with the earth I see clearly now Colors I never imagined Rivers becoming oceans Sky reflecting landscapes Continents drifting together This is absolution I see clearly now It’s all so surreal Become one In union, we dream infinitely

about

ASHBRINGER "yügen" DLP
vendetta records # 135

credits

released April 21, 2017

"When Ashbringer's Yūgen came out, Jon Rosenthal over at Invisible Oranges categorized it as atmospheric black metal but said he liked it, in part, because it's an "emo record at heart." Even though he cited it as a positive, those could just as easily be fighting words. If I hadn't heard the album before I read that, I might have kept right on going. But it's actually fair, and it's not a bad thing, either.

Ashbringer's first full-length, Vacant, was done by Nick Stanger alone, and it's a solid atmospheric black metal album. With Yūgen, Stanger has expanded the project to a full five piece (with the occasional guest), and with it, the project's sound has expanded and changed. The music is now bigger, heart-on-its-sleeve, bombastic black metal. The vocals are well within the fuzzy boundaries of black metal shrieks, but they also teeter just on the edge of breaking, not unlike...well, emo vocals. But it works, and I don't think you have to be in any way a fan of emo to enjoy this. (I'm, at best, a 0.5% emo fan, because I did really like Thursday's War All the Time back in the early aughts.)

It doesn't hurt that Stanger and co. are riff machines. There's plenty of tremolo'd goodness, like in "Lakeside Meditation," but they're also masters at creating single-line riffs that will get stuck in your head. I've had a descending line from the album opener "Solace" permanently lodged in my lobes ever since I heard it. What also helps move this music along is the band's understanding that you can't turn up the emotional heft to 11 and leave it there for a full album without exhausting your listeners. There are nice releases, like the acoustic interlude in "Solace" or the spacey interludes in "Celestial Infancy."

There are a couple of missteps toward the end of the album, although I think it's more a case of trying to push too far rather than a lack of skill. The title track has some great guitar work--including a neat staccato riff and some really cool experiments in guitar tone--but the clean vocals provided by Elizabeth Redding, while very well performed, never really gel with the rest of the song. The penultimate track, "Omen," shows off some guest trombone work and band member Cormac Piper's bassoon, both of which are very cool, but a sugary sweet melody enters in the middle that bears a strong resemblance to late 70s/early 80s Top 40. I can't lie--it immediately makes me think of Minnie Riperton's "Loving You" from 1975, and it's more than a little jarring.

That said, the band comes roaring back with "Glowing Embers, Dying Fire," which in spite of its title, brings back the black metal storm needed to properly close out the album in anthemic (and emo-y!) style. For an hour's worth of music, I'm more than willing to overlook a couple of blemishes in what, to me, is a very unique and strong contender in black metal for 2016." metalbandcamp

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