Ash Return – “The Sharp Blade Of Integrity” (Swell Creek Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Formed after the sudden end of German old school hardcore band Miozän when most of the members decided to carry on, albeit in a different direction by recruiting Johnny la Bomba from epic metallers Gloryful, Ash Return now favor a bold mix of the two styles that is sure to catch your heart while shining your boots in a new style called ‘swordcore’! Mixed and mastered by legendary Swedish producer and musician Dan Swanö (Opeth, Marduk, Katatonia, Therion, Bloodbath etc), the fusion of deep epic passion and honest street aggression is a winning formula, and Ash Return pull it off magnificently on the 11 stirring tracks here. Opening with melancholic tones on ‘One’, the eruption of hardcore with its fast riffs and stomping beats is complemented superbly by heartfelt guitar melodies as the shout outs of ‘..we fight as one!!..’ are matched by la Bomba’s own rough growls and pagan screamo on this fast number that hooks you in immediately. Indeed, true to their roots, the tracks are short but get straight to the point in delivering their catches while not dallying around which definitely works for me! On ‘Time Is The Enemy’ the Maiden inspired melodies and Blaze Bayley like singing backed by shout outs are definitely given plenty of fire through the fast pistoning beats to lead up to the warrior singalong chorus of ‘..one life…one truth..one faith..no looking back!’. Exploding with a prominent bass on ‘Onwards’, deep razor riffs and throat strained vocals meld with catchy punk melodies and soulful harmonies of ‘…there’s only one way to go…ONWARDS!!..’ in yet another hook laden number that grabs and holds onto you. Rolling in double bass beats and fast snare work, ‘Mouth Of Blight’ is a hardcore smasher through and through its hard shout outs, Vinnie Stigma patented old school punk riffs although intelligently mixed with slightly slower punk passages to make this song stick. In a classic Terror inspired en masse anthem ‘Don’t Fear The Flame’ mixes driving hardcore fury as la Bomba screams ‘..we’ll tear your soul apart!!..’ with plenty of epic and punk melodies to add emotion to the massive power riffing aggression. There’s plenty of fighting spirit and warrior passion here, but don’t be expecting fantasy tales of dragons or sorcery, just the hard reality of the street on “The Sharp Blade Of Integrity”.