There are some musicians with a Midas touch – everything they do turns to gold. This seems to be the case for the artist only known as 鬼. Last year they produced one of 2020’s greatest atmospheric black metal albums in Empathica under their project Unreqvited. Now, 鬼 is flexing their metalcore muscle with their latest release as THE EMBER, THE ASH. The record still has signature black metal elements, but compared to what they are doing with Unreqvited, THE EMBER, THE ASH has a more melodic and straightahead structure to it in comparison.
Fixation is a unique blend of ice cold precision and a swirl of enveloping audio textures. The seven tracks are drenched in ripping guitar riffs, some which will stick in your head long after you’ve hit stop on the record, as well as bringing some grandiose synths and absolutely pummelling drums. Even though 鬼 hides their identity, and doesn’t really give too much away about their persona, the record is still one which will strike a chord with listeners. Fixation draws on themes such as suicide, love and how we come to deal with trauma.
Vocally 鬼 clearly has a defined black metal style to their voice, which pierces the fug of guitar distortion excellently. Why have metalcore vocalists been doing it any other way? The talents of this individual really shine through on the track “The Colossal Void” where for the first half of the song it is the vocal line which really drives the song, but then 鬼 has the guitars dominate for the remainder.
Throughout Fixation it seems that every single element of the record has been carefully thought out, clicking into place beautifully. For example, “Celestial Fracture” starts with a rather straightforward guitar riff, before exploding into life. But when the vocals come in there is a layer of this ethereal sound provided by the synths which remains constant, elevating the whole track in the process.
It is no surprise that THE EMBER, THE ASH has caught the attention of Prosthetic Records with this release, and 鬼 has certainly made a record which could maybe considered more widely accessible than the work they put up under Unreqvited. That being said, that doesn’t diminish how technically brilliant this record is and if you are looking for a brutal record that walks the line between metalcore and black metal then THE EMBER, THE ASH has you covered.
Fixation is out now via Prosthetic Records and can be ordered here.
Words: Tim Birkbeck