Album Review: How an Ex-Opeth Cover Band Made One of the Best Albums so Far of 2020

Ashbreather, a new and upcoming Montreal band, has the potential of making it big, simply due to the amount of originality they hold. The fuel behind this driving force: they are non-stop writers, creating new and fresh music, song after song. Let’s dig into their newest self-titled release, Ashbreather.

The album begins with a somber atmospheric feeling as if being pulled into a journey, like as if one is rising from the grave and coming back to Earth. Right off the bat, the opening track titled “Lonely Graves” gives the album a fittingly-good introduction.

Once the instrumentation hits, you really do feel the liveness of the record itself as it breathes heavily with a stonery/progressive metal vibe screaming all over. Furthermore, the opening portion of the record features a shift in change of tempo that successfully hooks the listener into what Ashbreather has to offer.

Surprised upon my first listen, I noticed that all the songs go into one another, which is a nice touch that most albums do not usually tend to have these days. Ultimately, I applaud Ashbreather for bringing that classic feeling back.

Very similar to Between the Buried and Me’s self-titled debut album, Ashbreather uses elements that bring that album format back, and put in a new spin on it. Throughout the record you realize you are locked into an engaging listening experience like none-other. 

Additionally, there are a lot of energetic and hyped-up moments throughout the album. These hit you like a brick, making you just want to mosh in your room, even if you would look like a fool doing so. I know I’ve made a fool of myself while listening to this record!

A lot of the guitar work is done through Mackay Agellon's signature style with a lot of influence from bands like Mastodon, Gojira, and Opeth, which is very noticeable throughout Ashbreather's songwriting. Agellon’s ability to write crushing guitar riffs that blow your mind is unparalleled.

Furthermore, some of the tracks on this record showcase a lot of amazing vocal work done by lead singer Ben Lavoie. He has an amazing vocal range which is very similar to other singers like Dave Mustaine of Megadeth or Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth. Additionally, the backing vocals from bassist Charles Richards and Colin MacAndrew offer a nice touch. Fun fact: each of the four members perform some vocal duties on the record.

Noticeably, there are a lot of technical aspects on this record, but the band can still write catchy and simpler songs. The radio-friendly “Save Me the Sorrows” track is a great exercise of what this band is capable of when they want to write a single that gets them on the map.

The highlight of the whole entire album is “Shake Hands With a Knife”. I do not know how they created that song, but it's crazy and all over the walls. The track ultimately showcases what this band can do together, showing that they have the ability to create things that are complex and that can boggle the mind. This showcases the fact that they can write a very long progressive song that exceeds the regular listening time, but still holds itself together in a matter that pleases the listener.

Overall, this album will be a big hit for those who love progressive metal/sludge.

Everyone should be on the lookout for Ashbreather, because they will be taking the world by storm. Ultimately, the band demonstrated here that they are very efficient with their music, know how to craft great songs, that they can appeal to an audience, all while showing a lot of professionalism.

2020 will be the year of Ashbreather.

Final score: 10/10

Phil hosts Turn on the Darkness every Wednesday from 1:00-2:00PM. Tune in for the best of progressive metal and shreddy guitars, only on CJLO 1690 AM.