CD Review

Written in Ashes – “Written in Ashes”

By Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Written in AshesSince 1996 this underground cult favorite has been pecking its way through the annals of the Goth scene. With a shifted lineup and a new direction, as do many existing bands that reinvent themselves, Written in Ashes returns from hiatus and offers up its fourth recording as a self-titled release. Crossfires of Lush, Cocteau Twins, Sisters of Mercy, Depeche Mode and Cure-like guitars amp the otherwise groove-minded spirit of Written in Ashes’ latest delivery, and with its retro embracement begets a refreshing ala carte tribute to alternative music as it once existed, while embellishing its own contemporary twist in the process.

The cryptic opening of Solemnity VI leaves a morose impression with its German manifesto soundbyte coupled with haunting keys, setting up The Sea, which lumbers proudly like its title, sounding as if Cocteau Twins decided to lean towards edginess. The steady All I Never Wanted and Of Hell, Hope & High Water features driving dance beats in Anything Box fashion, while Kevyn D. Hay's snarling vocals take on shades of Peter Murphy, as they do periodically throughout the disc. Pale September keeps the pace going with its sharp programming and undeniable refusal to relinquish the control Written in Ashes has developed for itself. The band sounds invigorated and inspired in its rebirth.

The bass-heavy soothing syncopation of Lament for Lamore coats the slow trance of the hypnotic verses that unravel into sturdy Goth-laced bridges and choruses. By the By, while it has a primitive stripped-down feeling to it, is carried nicely by Jason Carter's assumptive guitars and programming along with his mates Ashe Ruppe and Endymion Stark. Within a minute of the song one is assimilated into their rhythmic motherboard and swept along by a professional group that knows its way around a Goth channel like a river guide.

Both Maskin and Unfaith slink, but in different manners. Maskin is straightforward and precocious, while Unfaith is downright dirty and rude, not far off from late eighties Depeche Mode. It's a savory and lusty song that will undoubtedly induce a quivering trigger finger along with other extendable parts; a real erotic treat.

This same Depeche Mode-esque groove is recaptured on the satisfying Gypsum Rain, particularly in the Hallowed Grounds Mix which contains a more upbeat tempo and innovative instrumental programming sweeps that make the song a triumph. Meanwhile Solemnity VII caresses its recurrent muse with a luxuriant reworking that is as sexy as Unfaith, though in a more concerted demeanor.

For those of you who have been waiting for Written in Ashes to resurface, despair no longer the wait was well worth it. The 2004 edition is a slick and savvy homecoming that treats its rejuvenation like its namesake, rising like the proverbial phoenix, burning brightly with heart and passion.

Contact Information:
Latex Records, LLC
Post: 5857 Brookstone Walk, Acworth, GA, 30101-8473, USA