Ahasver‘s debut, Causa Sui, is an intense, visceral exploration of our insignificance, through the lens of ‘a-bit-of-everything’ metal.

Release date: September 16, 2022 | Lifeforce Records | Bandcamp | Facebook

My life revolves around music – for work as well as outside of that, I’m constantly listening, playing, writing, or thinking about it. I really feel I’m living and breathing music right now, yet I’ve been sorely out of touch with new music from this year. I visited my hometown recently, and I caught up with my parents (both not musicians, but both enthusiasts in their own right). I was complaining that my work van doesn’t have a CD player, and that I now had to Bluetooth music from my phone, at which point my dad asked me – somewhat pointedly – whether I had anything ‘new’ on my phone. And I had to realise that I did, in fact, not have any music from post-2021 with me. For someone whose life is so strongly based in music, I’ve been incredibly shut off to anything new, not so much out of choice, but lack of time, and that really sucks.

Immediately prior to my first listen of Ahasver‘s Causa Sui, I was chatting to my friend and bandmate L about physical reactions to music, which led to an interesting conversation about listening vs Listening. It made me realise that I couldn’t remember the last time I truly Listened to an album – I spend all day around music, yet, most of the time, it’s background noise. That’s not to say I’m not perceiving it or that I don’t appreciate it, it just means I’m not 100% dedicated to the experience. So I made it my mission to really Listen to Causa Sui.

Right from the start of the opening track “Fierce”, I knew this was going to be a visceral experience. The opening lonely, wailing guitar sent a chill down my spine and right to the pit of my stomach, foreboding, with a sense of warning of what’s to come, like a messenger sent ahead to warn the troops of enemy action. Massive, tribal drums add a sense of urgency. When the song kicks in, it becomes grimy, dense, everything suffocating, cymbals heaving desperately in the background. The vocal delivery is somewhere between Robb Flynn, Troy Sanders, and Phil Anselmo – a combination that serves as both a very human, narrative element, and to thicken the already choking atmosphere further. The song disintegrates into a skittering bridge, the repeated lyric ‘you walked away’ driving it to its understated conclusion, that same lonely guitar hanging suspended.

Causa Sui is an incredibly immediate album that just needs to be experienced. There’s a lot going on, and it draws you in, to the point that I found it difficult to remember everything that had happened in any given song. It’s a super intense album, bordering on overwhelming, filled to the brim with contrasts – the beautiful interplay between the two guitars juxtaposed by crushingly low, meaty rhythm playing and moments of pure dissonance; the rigidity of some sections against the fluidity of others; the catchy, melodic vocal hooks alongside undiscernible screaming; moments of pure chaos in the midst of meticulously crafted harmony. It’s clearly a very deliberate album, and yet trying to analyse everything seems to completely miss the point of it.

At so many points, my mind was going ‘oh, it sounds a little like [so-and-so band]’, or ‘that drum compression is intense, but it’s very reminiscent of [album] and I dig it’. Like, shut the fuck up, brain! Yes, Causa Sui sounds a little bit like early Daughters, it’s a little Dillinger, a little death metal, kind of Turnstile-y, a bit Gojira, slightly Machine Head, a bit Mastodon, a little Hirsch Effekt. My description makes it sound way more disorganised than it is, and doesn’t do it any justice – I can honestly say I’ve never, ever heard anything like it. I think the vast range of influences play in its favour. It’s unexpected, fresh, even (please forgive the use of such a cliché word) inspired.

The whole first half of the album is really just back-to-back bangers; from the bracingly urgent “Fierce”, unapologetically detailed and catchy “Peace” (probably my favourite track on the album; listen out for the anvil-like guitars and mysterious screaming in the bridge), the organised chaos of “Dust”, which displays the full range of Ahasver’s influences, the nightmarishly catchy “Tales”, right through to the clever simplicity of “Wrath”, there’s barely a moment to catch one’s breath. The first time I heard the album, I sat entranced until I came to a fair way past the middle of the album, hunched over, clutching my face and staring at nothing. Occasionally I felt my body shudder, or my mind would try to say something, but none of it mattered – I think I was in a state of shock, suffocated completely by Causa Sui’s overwhelming, visceral intensity. “Path” serves to offer a momentary break for reflection, before it returns to chaos once more, until “Sand” and finally the epic “Kings” bring the album to a close.

I think part of the reason why I’ve been out of touch with new releases recently is fear of disappointment. Come to think of it, that’s been a running theme for me this year. I finished 2021 (more or less) with ILLT’s quite stunning Urhat, an album I still love and listen to regularly. And then, I didn’t write for quite a while, and most stuff I heard left me kind of cold. Well, let me tell you – Ahasver fucking changed that. Causa Sui blew my head right off (figuratively, luckily!).

Perhaps saying Causa Sui changed my life is a bit far, but it’s certainly one of the most ambitious, genuine, and original things I’ve heard in a long time (and it’s a debut! Holy shit!). I identify with this album deeply – it’s intense, and dark, cold and lonely, harsh, and bold. A lot of it seems to contemplate the insignificance of our existence, both as individuals and as a species. Some of my favourite lines include ‘because in the end, you are all alone’, and, very poignantly, ‘your existence means nothing’. By the end of the album, one thing is clear: we will all ‘return to dust’.

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