Written in Ashes Written in Ashes
By Ray Van Horn, Jr.
Since 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
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.
Latex Records, LLC
Post: 5857 Brookstone Walk, Acworth, GA, 30101-8473, USA