Well hot damn, this one was an unexpected mind fuck of an album to write about it. Based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Lamentations Of The Ashen is a solo project headed by Bon Vincent Fry. His newest creation entitled Libertine Cyst is essentially a massive head trip down the rabbit hole of Black Metal. Composed of a number of different elements and influences, this one goes all over the spectrum in terms with what one can do within the Black Metal style. I’ve been insanely impressed lately at the boundaries being pushed by the USBM scene – those that have washed off the corpse paint and tossed out the satanic ideology that has in some ways caused it to grow stagnant to a degree. We are seeing a new phase emerge for this style, one born of that classic, hate-filled anger, but refined and altered with experimentation; with some even regional influences and folklore added into it in some some cases. Lamentations Of The Ashen sits somewhere between Panopticon and Wolves in the Throne in terms of overall concept and sound. A harsh production and bare bones recording, which adds to its almost ethereal, not of this world projection contained within it. Libertine Cyst is a welcome addition to the sound that makes up the ever-evolving American Black Metal scene. A four-song, hour-long ride through the different shades of day and night contained within the Chihuahuan Desert that borders his home town.
Fry describes his musical vision as “Tragic Black Metal,” which really isn’t too far off the mark. With a tendency to include some more ambient doom, shoe gaze and sonic experimentation, this one is kind of all over the map in terms of his vision and sound. But when all is said and done, this is a pretty heavy album, chalk full of some surprising moments of reflection and emotional weight. “A Profane Illvmination (Convvlsionaries of Temporal Heterodoxy)” is the first and shortest song on this release, with a running time of twelve and half minutes. Fry walks us through a quiet few moments of contemplation, then strumming down and dropping into heavy feedback before he properly introduces himself and this project to us. A slew of blast beats and serpentine hisses issue forth, and it’s at this point that one is confronted with the depth that he is attempting to delve into musically. From start to finish, this album is a pretty intense ride, with a number of ideas being put on display here for the listener to dissect. Each song has it’s own flow and vibe to it, but also manages to tie in pretty well in terms of the album’s entire flow.
Fry has injected all of these songs with different facets and ideas that cover a vast number of influences and genres. From the almost Boris Flood-era ambient opening to the more traditional Black-Doom Metal assault that is the second song “II,” Fry concocts a rather hefty dose of emotion, which is often hard to do with such a vast sonic palette. The last song, “Dissentient Cylic Echelons (Manifesting The Ascent and Effacement Of The Abyss),” is in itself almost a whole album. With a running time of close to nineteen minutes, it’s within this song that we are subjected to the full culmination of L.O.T.A. vision, with a haunting synthesizer portion spread across the opening that leads right into the blast beat, depressive Black Metal aspect of his sound. As the song slows down its tempo, Fry constructs a hauntingly acoustic guitar section for a brief moment before vaulting back into a rather depressingly Homeric finale.
As one can assume from this review and the album’s length, this isn’t just something you put on to kill sometime. This is an album that you have to sit down with and digest in it’s entirety. A release that, after your initial listen, you’ll find something unique and new with every subsequent rotation of it. Fry has shown a pretty unique vision, one that has grown since his last release EKIMMV, which he also put out under this project’s moniker. Libertine Cyst shows a tremendous amount of potential for himself and perhaps anything else he decides to join up with in the future. It’s a pretty startling kaleidoscope of sound and emotions, perhaps drawn from the vistas and hue of the sky that his home state is so well known for. As I mentioned before, the North American Black Metal scene has been doing some pretty genre-expanding stuff over the last couple of years and this album is no different. Hopefully, Fry will receive a bit more recognition after people have time to digest this one, encouraging him to explore and develop his ideas further on later releases. Overall, Libertine Cyst is worth checking out by fans of Black Metal who aren’t scared to venture out of the woods and walk a different path.