Ashenspire - Hostile Architecture

13 Jul 2022 - Thorsten

Blackened Avantgarde | Aural Music | Release date: 18 Jul 2022

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Hostile Architecture Hostile…what? How can architecture be hostile? It can and it will become clearer throughout this review of a really amazing record if you like White Ward and Botanist, Code and Imperial Triumphant. Glaswegian-based collective Ashenspire catapults itself into the top ranks for modern black metal music with a twist and an agenda!

The whole package, the artwork, the record title and also track titles like ”How The Mighty Have Vision” leave little space for interpretation – this band is out to kill current (capitalist) structures and they also clarify their record title clearly right from the start with ”The Law of Asbestos”. Architecture can define a society – let’s first think of positive examples like the wonderful Moorish architecture in Andalusia, where form and function follow one primary idea: to enable people to live in a beautiful seclusion within a region whose deadly heat makes it hard to stay outdoor in the summer. Unfortunately, it can also be the other way round – like the National Theatre in London, which shall be used as an example here:


At first glance it becomes obvious that there is basically no human life (possible) in such a building. It’s more or less completely concrete, it’s not softened anywhere, the shapes and edges are harsh and uninviting and even windows are hardly to be seen. How can life be of any moral value in a building that doesn’t follow any human moral and ethical philosophy when it reduces man to nothing more than a living worker bee whose senses shall not be directed at the beauty of human life but rather at consumption and work? Brutalist buildings confirm the social gap between the wealthy and the low-ly, between bourgeoisie and proletariat. Having gone into a very similar building for near six years during my university studies, I can assure you, one never gets to really appreciate these buildings because they are immorally ugly! When one imagines such buildings to be used for housing it becomes even clearer how they pack people into boxes for sardines. In that sense these buildings are hostile to mankind, they are brutalist, hostile architecture!

That a band calling their new record like that makes clear that they can be located rather on the left side of politics, and yes, that is where Ashenspire and lyricist/vocalist Alistair Dunn comes from. His desperation at such buildings and what they indirectly stand for (the widening gap between the social classes) is more than apparent in tracks like ”Cable Street Again” when he screams that ”Desperate times call for desperate measures … so hold your tongue or I hold it for you!” or at the beginning of the first track when his first words are ”Capitalist pre-eminence made matter” referring to the capitalist origins of these buildings and this anti-equality-society. This is a very hardcore record in that sense and might share more connections to Chumbawamba than to Imperial Triumphant.

However, on the musical side this record is a blazing and befuddling mixture of blackened hardcore, dissonant free-jazz, punkish noise and much more. One cannot deny the attraction this record holds on people for whom Imperial Triumphant is too jazzy and White Ward not noisy enough. Nevertheless, these two bands might serve as good comparisons to those who need them. However, neither conveys the angst, the desperation and the urge to scream at the top of your lungs while throwing stuff against the wall of these buildings! This is music that might even enrage the calmest of us if one listens to the lyrics. Dunn and his multitude of friends and collaborators have created a record that will surely be among my top10 at the end of the year because the urge, the passion and the drive are pure hardcore for the heart. The dissonance, the diverse musical topoi and the dynamics are perfect fodder for the brain. And to add to all of that one must mention the manifold instrumentation on this record, with violin, dulcimer and saxophone not just supporting the songs but defining them by adding the un-melodic elements that gives us enough to discover even during the umpteenth spin.

This band might be best compared to Refused for all of their ideas, their uncompromising music and the fire it lights in the hearts of those who listen. Behold, people, this might become a classic reference sooner or later!