It was way back in 2013 when we last heard from dark rock band Ash And Coal who had kindly sent in their EP ‘Agnostica’ to us on vinyl. At the time I was pretty impressed with their moribund but infectious sound which took me off to a world that was indeed enshrouded in Ash and Coal. The smog within was one that I said could well have you finding the Swedes your new favourite band and listening to it again prior to covering this I stand by those words. Although it has taken 4 years for them to follow up on this promise obviously some people agreed as the band have been signed to home grown label ViciSolum who have a roster that always seem to impress us with their releases.
Victor Klint who formed the band and has been playing different genres of metal and rock since 2008 has striven to forge the sound we arrive at today and the pacing on Legacy was one of the first things that I noted. The 10 songs here go from faster rocking numbers to slow more ballad etched tales of doom and misery. However don’t expect to wallow in gloom all the way through as things have an obsidian sense of humour within the lyrical folds and the poetic nature is really enticing and dare I say enjoyable.
The first of the upbeat numbers ‘Never Learn’ kicks the album off with verve that takes me back to the 80’s. It’s not a Gothic number by any means but is certainly hanging around on its coattails and reminds me a bit of bands on the fringes such as The Claytown Troupe and Balaam And The Angel. This could be coincidental due to having covered both in other capacities recently but that’s the vibe I get here. The band get heads banging, feet stomping and would have no doubt gone down supporting big hitters like The Cult and The Mission with this anthemic rouser. The other side of the coin comes next with ‘Tell Them Not To Be Afraid’ a downbeat at the last saloon, noir-etched road trip of a number. It allows the clean vocals to really beatifically croon and ride into the night on a pale horse as the lyrics suggest. Fragile and soulful like the other songs of the style here it really tugs at the heartstrings. The words “Everything is dark and cold, everything is black’ slowly and harmoniously send a shiver down the spine and you cannot help but think of the likes of Nick Cave on ‘War Is Coming.’ Things rise into a soaring plea and the full effect of the vocals really hit the roof on this, an absolutely beautiful number that is certain to hit your very soul like a steam-train. From Johnny Cash to King Dude this one is an emotive number up there with the greats.
It’s time to wake up with the jangle of guitars and a song title that would be perfect on a Forgotten Tomb album. ‘Everyone’s A Misanthrope’ rocks hard and tightens the noose around the neck with that sense of gallows humour about it I mentioned. The band are totally expressing their two sides and it’s impossible not to like both of them, wondering what they are going to hit you with next. Back on the trail of the lonesome pine but never as jolly the Lynchian heartland of world weary killers or a deserted Western town ruined and lying in dust are the visions that speak to me from ‘Evil One’ and I lose myself in its folds again before like a Ghost Rider In The Sky ‘Rip It’ picks me up again and jubilantly carries me off.
The songs have taken a while to get beneath my skin here but that’s a good thing as it has made me listen to this plenty of times and really absorb all aspects of Ash And Coal’s musical world. I’m curtailing the track by track dissection, you should have a pretty clear idea of what to expect here by now and again I feel compelled to finish with the same words I did last time, check them out and who knows Ash & Coal could well be your favourite new band.
(8/10 Pete Woods)