Few bands are as difficult to pin down as Ahna, considering how chaotic they are. It’s impressive because you can actually pick out most of the ingredients that go into this bloody disgusting serving of dessert. Crimson Dawn is the Canadian group’s second full-length, ten years following their self-titled debut. Simply put, it’s a rusty and crusty pallet of death, doom, and black metal with a few surprises thrown in.
On the bottom level, this is molten hot death metal lava that flows straight to the gut and lets on no breathers for mercy. Blasting drums, beefy rhythms, and deep distortion fill every second of the seven songs with a burred finish. The song that easily focuses on this the most is “In Death’s Grip” for sticking to the traditional formula while adding unique spins. The cymbal clicks and higher fret-taps behind the chorus is a nice step away from the mucky puddle that is the rest of the song. The terror never goes away, and moments like these are proverbial cries for help as you struggle to the surface.
On the other hand, you have tracks that nail you with fury right from the gate, allowing no room for warnings. The title track does this by casting heavier levels of speed and vocal up-hurls, before making a sudden shift in tempo to slower passages. That in itself was unexpected, especially because of the way it mixes doom presence with blackened tropes near the end. On that note, “Dead Gods” lays black metal on bluntly, thanks to the use of insane shrieks and overblown noise from the chaotic instrumentation.
But despite all of that, there’s something that jumps out more significantly, that being the vocal styles used in a couple of the songs. Opener, “Run For Your Life,” pummels you with everything I’ve been describing on the death metal end, only to drop in cleaner vocals. They’re very speed metal-esque falsettos, but still, sound rough due to the rusting mix. “Sick Waste” does the same thing. No other tracks contain that, but I will admit that it’s the one thing that feels somewhat out of place.
Consistency is admittedly the weakest point on Crimson Dawn. Nothing comes off in a way that I’d describe as awkward, but that many different angles of writing allow little defense against inconsistency. There’s definitely a time and a place for something like this, and when in that mood, Ahna certainly delivers. It may take a few listens to grow on you, though.
Crimson Dawn will be out on March 6th, 2020, through Caligari Records. You can order a tape cassette copy or hear it digitally right here.