People's interest in worthless trivia never ceases to amaze me. There have been various black metal bands in the last few years that have chosen to work under a veil of anonymity, a decision I always found interesting and intriguing as I think it is fitting to the occult, esoteric and mysterious nature of this particular kind of music. Unfortunately the underground is flooded by imbeciles that behave like the retards they really are, spreading gossip and trying to spoil such paraphernalia that are not necessarily music related but for genres that demand a certain theatricality like black metal does, they are like salt and pepper.
So, now that we know that Ascension consists of members of the one and the other band, hoping that the parasites, having done their job, are gone, we may proceed to the beast that is Consolamentum.
The band had released the Fire and Faith EP almost two months before the full length, as a harbinger of horrible things to come. Had Consolamentum been at the level of the EP, we would be talking about a monumental work that would make Paracletus feel its stinking breath. The album is great...actually it stands hands and shoulders above 99% of modern black metal with an ease that I find admirable. Unfortunately it does not achieve to create a double headed beast together with Paracletus. Nevertheless it stands right under the DsO's masterpiece throne, completing the trinity of 2010's most essential black metal records (From the Devil's Tomb being the third one).
To appreciate Consolamentum you need to leave aside some of the most common preconceptions concerning black metal. For some reason I never understood, many people believe that every black metal record that comes out owes to reinvent the wheel. This is a claim some people make exclusively when talking about black metal. I have yet to read someone criticizing a doom/thrash/death/heavy/whatever metal record for not bringing anything new on its field. On the one hand this is understandable as black metal has been the only sub genre of metal that has offered works of great innovation almost systematically for the last 15 years. On the other hand this does not mean that black metal HAS to be other than quality and adventurous music with religious and spiritual connections.
On the general map of black metal Ascension would be placed in the orthodox area and they view their art in the holistic manner that is almost the rule for such bands. Thus, the music, lyrics and visual part of the record are totally connected and must be viewed as one. Even the date of the record's release is a part of the whole concept. As is expected the band chooses to leave the 'frostbitten' ridiculous side of black metal for the kiddies that are now discovering the joy of masturbation. Even if we didn't know anything about the band, it would be apparent that this is a mature band and Consolamentum is the distillation of years of experience and devotion.
The album is carefully crafted and structured in a way that suits the vinyl version with Fire and Faith, in a different recording than this of the EP, being the epicenter of the album. The most important criticism I could make on the record is that it drags towards the end. Had it been one song less I think it would be quite close at fulfilling my high expectations completely. Make no mistake though...this is a mighty release. One of the most stupid, false and irrelevant cliches concerning black metal is the one that assumes that it should be freezing, icy and other such bullshit...bullshit...Consolamentum is burning fire, the boiling lava that threatens to melt everything that stands on its way. This is how modern black metal shall be...religious, apocalyptic, bold, melodic and luring in order to attract the unaware ones, poisonous and deadly in order to forever enslave them. Amen...
On the now infamous Deathspell Omega interview for the Ajna Offensive, the band has been asked about their decision to release a split with Clandestine Blaze and work with Mikko A's record label (let alone, recruit the man as their vocalist I should add) 'seeing as their doctrines are, seemingly, different' than Dso's. The answer was that Dso have noticed that they are really close with him, although his usual rhetoric would point otherwise. Also I quote 'He is one among very few who can take the most atrocious things very naturally, and he is one among very few who truly shares a fascination and appreciation for things of an utterly sadistic nature that I will not unveil here'.
Examining Mikko A's work with most of his projects, especially the noise and porn related ones, the above quote seems almost like an understatement.
His black metal vehicle has come to its sixth full length. Falling Monument features all the usual traits Clandestine Blaze showed in the past, enriching their sound with some simple tricks that are proven quite effective at adding a twisted charm to the rawness on offer here. Like on the Stabat Mater record that came one and a half year before, Mikko A shows an improved sense of control, one that helps at adding texture to his otherwise monolithic approach. For me this is the best Clandestine Blaze work to date. It features the best tracks he has written in quite a while, in fact some of them have the powers to come to be underground classics. As expected there is zero compromise here. The pounding drums are the base of the record, the guitar work is some of his best, his vocals are on top form. If you need just one record from the recent crop of black metal of the northern ilk, this is the one.
Once more...this is not the reinvention of the wheel. It is more an attack to destroy it and any other of 'mankind's achievements'...Ha