I hadn’t heard of Ashen Waves prior to being given the opportunity to review their album “Premonitions” so I really didn’t know what to expect. Having listened to it, I am not really sure I still have a clear understanding of the band and the direction they are going. That might be because they seem to be going in a few different directions. Certainly, it’s understandable for a progressive metal band to have different sides to their sound, but Ashen Waves seemed to be almost schizophrenic.
“Premonitions” starts with the song “Whispers” which is somewhat standard progressive metal, mostly clean vocals with some harsh vocals, and a somewhat Symphony X vibe. The album is divided by multiple interludes named after the album title. They are everything from ambient (“Premonition I” and “Premonition III”) to world music (“Premonition II”) to avant-garde (“Premonition IV”). In between these very different interludes are songs that are equally unique unto themselves.
“Enmity” is mostly slow and doomy with a black metal vocal. “Frozen Night” is somewhere between blackened thrash metal and even Viking metal. “Bridge Through Time” is a peaceful shoegaze like song that gets very large toward the end. The point here is that Ashen Waves are good at many different things but not really GREAT at one thing. It’s fine to have songs with their own identity but since the band doesn’t seem to have an identity, the songs tend to veer off into various places.
As far as debut albums go, I think “Premonitions” shows that Ashen Waves have a bright future. I hope they hone in on a sound that’s more unique and defined. There’s nothing wrong with experimenting but perhaps having a more solid base would make them less scattered.