Is there a better feeling in this world than having your expectations fulfilled? Especially when discovering music, where cover art, track names and recommendation set those expectations before the first note even starts, having your prognostications met is a true pleasure. This is a rare thing so, when it comes, we must cherish it and try and spread it far and wild. That’s why we’re here today to talk to you about Dvne Asheran. Recommended to this viewer by a member of the wider Heavy Blog Family, the bar was instantly set high for Asheran: the cover art is incredible, the band name and track names are on point and their previous releases all hold tremendous promise. So, right as the play button was first pressed, murmured mutters of “please, please be as good as you seem” could be heard coming from this writer’s work room followed by immediate cries of “HELL YES”.
Asheran is an interesting entry into the progressive stoner/death genre (don’t worry, we’re not going to bore you with details about that specific trend again). Usually, bands in the sub-genre choose very specific influences from which to draw their inspiration. Asheran however seems to take a wider approach, with tracks ranging in influence from Elder to Anciients and anything in between. “Viridian Bloom” for example features leads heavily in debt to the former, while “Thirst”‘s approach more closely echoes the aggressive tones of the latter. Everywhere, however, is reserved a special dedication to bridging the main fault line of the sub-genre: repetition.
It is the woe of many an inexperienced band in the doom/stoner/post-metal circles to believe that the repetition inherent to the sound is an ideology rather than a weakness. Instead of hearing the subtle variation replete in the works of bands like Inter Arma, for example (a name which had to be mentioned at some point in this review, as Dvne bear their influence just as much as the aforementioned artists), they focus on what appears to be a repetitive riff, over and over again. Dvne elegantly sidestep this approach by injecting their music with plenty of twists and turns, drawing as we said on a wide range of sounds and ideas intrinsic to their musical field. Thus, we get the immensely moving quiet passages of “Thirst” for example, which transform its aggressive outro (perhaps the heaviest of moments on the album) into so much more than the sum of its parts.
Another trademark of the sub-genre which is well utilized on Asheran is vocal interplay. The work of Victor Vicart and Dan Barter on mingling lead and backing vocals into one whole is admirable; the resulting melodies, drawing on both harsh and clean vocals, are one of the sturdiest pillars of the album. “Descent of the Asheran” for example (a track name which might lead us to suspect that this is a concept album, a suspicion which we will duly investigate) uses the clean vocals to accompany its dreamier, opening passages before giving way to harsh vocals on the heavier middle passages. However, the separation is wildly not maintained, as a “screamier” version of the clean vocals accompanies the harsh ones before winning back their ascendancy. Couple this with the moving guitar leads and solos and you have yourself a formula for emotional impact.
Which leads us to the final point, the production. In all aspects of sound, Dvne were able to capture the exact “sound du jour”, melding modernity and the traditional metal revival. The guitars can be deep and pronounced, the bass crisp and the drums penetrative but the old-school tones of resplendent overdrive and hazy distortion are well placed as well. This lends Asheran a distinct feeling of timelessness, a feeling which accompanies the best releases from the sub-genre in the recent two years or so. All of which is to say that Dvne certainly sound like they’re here to stay and it would be a damn shame if they didn’t get the recognition they deserve. Asheran is a fantastic addition to the growing progressive death/stoner sub-genre and to the annals of metal in general. We’ll get back to you on the concept album thing, OK?
Dvne’s Asheran releases on the 28th of July and you’d be doing yourself a great disservice if you didn’t check it out. You can pre-order it right here.