Daily Dose: ‘In Lands of Ashes’ by Aquilus

Back to metal today! Except not really, but whatever, genres are just labels. However, “atmospheric metal”, as Aquilus (from Melbourne, Australia) have attributed to themselves, is a solid sounding tagline to introduce with. They’ve got folk and classical leanings, as a lot of metal does these days, but credit to them for exploring it a different and actually interesting way with regards to the back-mixed vocals, which sound pretty neat most of the time. It’s from the album Griseus that came out in 2011, and was described to me roughly as “five minutes of black metal but the rest is folksier stuff”, a fair description if ever I heard one. It’s a very lengthy album though, so don’t just be thinking you can dive into that business and be done in forty minutes – tracks like this, at over eleven minutes long, render such flights of fancy an impossibility. However, I find large chunks of this song very unassumingly beautiful, with the first five minutes of guitar and piano work being a highlight for me. It might have had something to do with my mood at the time of my first and second listen, but I found that section (and track as a whole, to be fair) very relaxing. Then the big orchestral part comes in and everything kicks off for a bit, with the odd choir and a slight vocal diversion towards the end. It doesn’t feel nearly twelve minutes long to me due to its actually quite laid back feel (even for the intense bits, there’s a kind of perspective to the music that doesn’t make it feel all-consuming), and the more I experience having vocals quite low in the mix for certain types of metal track, the more I am a huge fan of it as a concept. More metal with these technical ideas, please.

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