Ashenspire – Hostile Architecture

[Code666, 2022]

Intro: Christos Minos

Five years after Speak Not of the Laundanum Quandary, Scottish band Ashenspire release their second full-length album titled Hostile Architecture to make their presence felt in the modern heavy music context. The avant-garde direction of the compositions is combined with immersion in the contemporary social situation. Music that wants to go beyond conventions and lyrics that want to talk about something beyond the known social reality. Ashenspire is a rare band from any point of view.

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The vision of a forgotten sense of change

“Hostile architecture” is the trend that wants to make modern cities impossible for those having less, the public space immune to the presence of the homeless and poor people. They are the cities that are not only willingly blind to social reality, but also want to eradicate the outcast human presence from their territory.

Ashenspire constructs their music by dissecting the contemporary urban experience of late capitalism. The late Mark Fisher spoke of the reality shaped by the entrenchment of capitalist realism, a world that cannot imagine a new future like that of the 20th century, and Ashenspire describes its wounds in their songs.

With a sincere avant-garde attitude, they use hard metal as a vehicle for experimentation, which is expressed through the use of the saxophone and the extensive use of the violin. Their sound is shaped like a successful amalgamation of influences from today, bands like Forest of stars, White Ward and from an ocean of avant-garde music of the 20th century with King Crimson being the most iconic reference. Alasdair Dunn’s voice (who is also the drummer) balanced between anger and despair must be the factor that makes the record a unique experience.

The originality of Hostile Architecture lies in the truthfulness of its compositions. The music becomes a necessary underpinning of the lyrics and the lyrics breathe only in the dark labyrinth of the compositions. A great tension lies in the background of Hostile Architecture that erupts like a rushing river that forces you to pay attention. Progressive music that doesn’t monotonously repeat its iconic past, doesn’t imitate what has already been done but wants to speak, however difficult it may be in the 21st century, a new language.

Mark Fisher introduced to his own ghosts the concept of hauntology and the deeply melancholic dimension it contains. The melancholia he suggests is not a depressing capitulation with the present, quite the opposite: it is the refusal to assimilate to reality even if there is the risk of being labeled as a misfit. Ashenspire is that example of unruly music that, while charting the modern capitalist experience, refuses to surrender to it. Their music is a vision of a forgotten sense of change.

9 / 10

Christos Minos


2nd opinion


Ashenspire’s second album is shockingly bold, provocative, musically as well as lyrically. The extreme sound base refers mainly to metal, nevertheless expands in an even more abysmal and haunting direction. The pretentious, artistically perfect “dissonance” is accompanied by uncontrollable outbursts through strings, the brass  are combined with furious vocals hypnotically repeating the lyrics like a manifesto. The whole aesthetic is rendered as an avant-garde musical with seriousness and enthusiasm as it deserves in a work of such gravity and of course the lyricism has a strong presence in labyrinthine orchestrations. The album is recommended to RIO / avant-prog fans – especially Henry Cow fans – due to the anarchist and anti-capitalist content, general attitude and approach. Cable Street Again is a favorite moment in this twisted masterpiece. Beguilingly uncompromising and disturbingly awakening, Hostile Architecture is steeped in political rage aims through aggression and deconstruction and to remind us that poverty and social inequality are not the result of natural disasters.

9 / 10

Giannis Zavradinos