Rites I & II by Ashtoreth


Ashtoreth | Rites I & II
Cyclic Law (LP/CD/DL)

Pendulum-like, ambient excursion

Here’s an interesting story. There was an amazing Belgian progressive, experimental hardcore band from Antwerp and their name was Maya. Until now, I consider their debut album as the epitome of hardcore progression, an utterly unrecognized gem and one of the most important hardcore albums in the history of the genre! In 2013, I uploaded Maya’s debut via Youtube, as I believed that such a gem deserves the utmost recognition. Not much time passed and I received a message from a fine gent, Peter Verwimp (Building Transmissions, Haunted Places, Station Grey, Stifled Cries) thanking me for that upload and telling me that he played in… Maya! Shocked as I was, he added that he has a new (at the time) project, named Ashtoreth! Much time have passed, people and I’m extremely pleased to review Peter’s new creation.

Ashtoreth – as I read – is in search of a shamanistic perspective, channeling at times: minimal, meditative drones with layers of meandering guitars and at others, a catharsis of doom, drone, ambient, folk, metal, noise and experimentation, always in a free and improvised form. Intriguing, right?

Rites I & II is a two-piece album, clocking at almost 38 minutes. Being heavily based on drones and ambient, it creates a certain space and a holistic appropriation of darkness, a ritual and introverted expedition into a spiritual and organic vastness. Ashtoreth’s sound is penetrating in every aspect: shamanic chanting, energy razor-blades in the form of minimal guitar, a huge embrace of bass driven currents, cathartic and certain. An aesthetic procreation and the well-perceived certainty of exquisite ambient music, that leaves a feeling of void thereafter. Music that delivers plentifully giving one climax after the other! Serene soundscapes with such power and punch!

It’s amazing to hear in this recording elements of Peter’s early works, even before Ashtoreth. The listener faces a recognizable and fine-tuned sound, with very sincere and solid continuance as developed over the years. In Ashtoreth’s case, ambient that – I dare to say – includes in it’s core, amazingly concealed, but present hardcore (!) elements. In fact, many different but related elements merged together, quite skillfully. And the album is presented as a beautifully packaged vinyl and equally beautiful, six-panel CD released by the Berlin based label, Cyclic Law.    

Peter Verwimp has become an artist of his very own kind; a self-proclaimed sonic shaman and very well deserving of this attribute. Let us witness and be merry for his wonderful incantations.                                                   

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