Comprised of multi-instrumentalist Michael Blenkarn (of British black metallers Wodensthrone and The Axis of Perdition-fame), and vocalist Steve Black, Ahamkara’s debut ‘The Embers of the Stars’ marks a definite departure from the approach of their countrymen, merging sweeping synth-laden compositions and bass-driven melody to offer an enjoyably fresh sound from a British black meal band.
With its four lengthy compositions (the shortest clocking in at just over ten minutes), ‘The Embers of the Stars’ contains an admirable emotional and atmospheric range, complementing the traditional all-out barrage of blastbeats and tremolo guitars with swirling harmonies and passages of deep introspection effectively. It’s a combination that many atmospheric black metal bands before them have utilized, yet Ahamkara manage to suffuse each track with more intent and originality than the majority of comparable studio projects around today by allowing each instrument to shine through the compositions and production; an approach that brings the band’s skillful musicianship and the complexity of each song to the fore. As a result ‘The Embers of the Stars’ offers a denser and more immersive listen than many of the similarly-minded projects, possessing a sound perhaps more akin to the aggressive immediacy of Panopticon, or indeed Wodensthrone’s later less-folkish material, as opposed to the inevitable comparisons to Agalloch and Fen and their atmospheric serenity.
A very satisfying listen and a debut that hints towards songwriting abilities greater than Ahamkara’s small personnel, ‘The Embers of the Stars’ offers an introspective yet bombastic listening experiencing, finely walking the line between soaring melody and searing aggression. Closing track ‘To Invoke the Stars Themselves’ deserves special mention in this regard, with the track’s almost ten minute aural assault building up to an utterly majestic and explosive extended finalè that any fan of powerfully melodic metal will fail to be unmoved by, and that simultaneously concludes the record’s journey with a stirring example of Ahamkara’s sound.