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Ashen Mortality - Your Caress

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After falling in love with this band's first release "Sleepless Remorse", I just had to get their sophomore album.  "Your Caress" is everything their previous effort was and more.  This is one top notch album.  I've heard many people complain about this band and say how they don't like Ian Arkley, but I have yet to discover why.  This band is amazing.  One thing you'll notice here is the variety in the vocals compared to the last album.  Mr. Arkley does more singing along with his gruff growling vocals.  But don't worry, Ashen Mortality is not getting soft on us. The singing vocals are as haunting as they come, making for a very creepy atmosphere.  Along with Arkley's vocals are the beautiful vocals of Melanie Bolton.  She sings two songs by herself that are short, but superb ("Broken Bonds" & "Our Eden").  She also does a lot of background vocals in the other songs.  The music here is very heavy.  The guitar work is terrific.  Arkley is definitely one of my favorite guitar players.  There are also the very haunting keyboards like they used on the last album that send chills up your spine.  The production (although not perfect) is much better than "Sleepless Remorse".  It's almost impossible to pick a favorite song.  Every tune from "In Empty Eyes", to "My Reflection", to "From the Cage" please these ears. 
 
The lyrics are very sad and sometimes depressing, and express a lot of regret, but in most of the songs the hope of Christ is brought forth as the answer to the sadness.  Lyrics like "...purity still remains for those who look to Christ and see." ("In Empty Eyes"), and "Lift me up, take this weight from me.  Break this curse, put your strength within me." ("From This Cage"), show a person who knows that despite the pain, freedom exists in our Lord.  The emotion felt on this album is very evident.  The switching back and forth between singing and growling, soft acoustic to heavy electric, and the hauntingly beautiful female vocals make for an album that you will want to keep in your CD player for days. Folks, don't listen to the complainers.  This band is very, very good, and I'm very proud to be one of their biggest fans.  (Review by Matt)

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