Golden Ashes - A Lightless Christ Shuns The Crown Of Divinity

24 Jul 2021

Symphonic Black Metal | Improved Sequence | Release date: 10 Aug 2021

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Once again Maurice de Jong releases an umpteenth release a year. Sorry, correction: An umpteenth great release a year.; the new Golden Ashes record is the sixth release by Maurice in the sixth incarnation in 2021! And he never disappoints!

Coffin Lurker. Cloak of Altering. Grand Celestial Nightmare. The Black Mysteries. Pyriphlegethon. And now Golden Ashes with its third full-length in as many years following an EP the year before, so those are four releases between 2018 and 2021. Each release has some kind of clear cover-color-coordination depicting a golden burst or a river from the middle of a volcano, the clouds or a mountain top, they all clearly share some theme. The new release is a little different in that there is no golden burst or ray, but an assembly of clouds in varying arrangements of light golden and black.

Musically, this record connects with the other ones because it follows the same idea: Basically having two very different records running simultaneously beside each other. Or so it seems. One record is a very symphonic kind of music. On A Lightless Christ…. it is very ecclesiastical in appearance and sounds as if De Jong is playing a church organ and sometimes it sounds a little bit like in a Russian Orthodox church (compare the arrangements on ”Our Skins Hanging At The Gates Of Ctesiphon”) - but of course the sounds are made by a synthesizer, how could he find the time to travel to Eastern Europe to record there?

The second record is pure, spiteful classic Black Metal – fast, furious, raging, out for revenge and trying to get rid of some kind of inner demons. That might be the connecting point – the wish for finding some kind of peace in a sea of fear and anger, pain and misery. Black Metal is a strife for freedom from the burdens of this existence, while religion is searching for inner peace in this inexplicable world. As antagonistic as they are, there are a few certain parallels: the spite for the other, the believe of being the only relevant form of “explanation” and the strife for some higher form of self. Plus, of course, a fascination for everything related to death.

On A Lightless Christ… you will find moments of utmost clarity, when the ecclesiastical side dominates the Black Metal side or vice versa. Nevertheless, the strife to counter-act each other is lurking behind every corner and that is the interesting thing about this record – finding those moments when both “records” come together forming some kind of harmony. These are very rare moments but they are so uplifting that not a lot of Black Metal records this year can compare – listen to the beginning of ”The Essence Of Your Body Became Celestial” for example, here the dominant keys are pushed aside more and more, but they use “the pauses” within the whirlwinds to show their strength. And in the final track ”The Twilight Pilgrims” both contribute to birthing such an immense thunderstorm that one can hardly grasp it!

Thematically the record is talking about the ascend towards heaven, as shown in many references like “Celestial” or “Twilight”, “Spectral” and “Stars” but most obviously in the title ”Bewildered We Watched The Christ Ascend”. However, due to the lack of lyrics, that aspect cannot be confirmed.

Is this a record you want to listen to? Probably not, because it can be confusing as hell! Is this a record you should listen to? Maybe not, for it requires a lot of time and patience to unfold. Is this a record that rewards you listening to it? Definitely, because the mix is quite unique and thus very different from a lot of Black Metal released this year! De Jong never disappoints!