Rev 16:8 has a history of identity crisis. The black metal entourage originally settled on the name Scythe, but that got old and Scythe became Bloodshed before the Swedish band heaving a few releases in the meantime made Rev 16:8 their moniker. The group's second opus entitled "Ashlands" makes few variations from the bestial direction of black metal in the vein of Dark Funeral or Marduk. You want blast beats? Check. Wobbling tremolo riffs? Oh yes. Shrieks? Ding-ding. The album is a fairly boring listen as you may expect. There are few moments of an authentic band shining through this effortless route of sadistic blasting and maniacal riffing, which is sadly the standard ideology of "Ashlands."
You could probably guess how this one turns out right from the start. Blast beats, tremolo riffs, shrieks. The triangle of frostbitten doom, and the primary backbone of Rev 16:8's musical perimeter. Some bands can do the threesome justice, but these guys aren't the lucky ones. I assume they shot for a dark, nihilistic tone of war and death, but the album instead looks really campy and clichιd, almost like a Dark Funeral tribute. Quality riffs and ideas are limited, and the overbearing production which brilliantly (sarcasm) grinds the thudding chaos into a digitized pile of bombing clarity is anything but enthralling. Far from a caricature of black metal, but still noticeably daft. Surely generic and rough, but there a few good songs. "Blackline Sundown" performs much of the album's genetic postulate to a tee, but it has nice guitar work and instrumentality that actually sticks, shockingly.
Variances of musical worth, though, hardly appear beyond "Blackline Sundown." Perhaps "Rust Retinal Vein" deserves a little recognition; the simplistic percussion which floats underneath the track works pretty well, and the slow, crawling riffs make it an atmospheric piece of haunting black metal. "Blackline Sundown" and "Rust Retinal Vein" can't stand against the vapid virus plaguing the six musical songs of "Ashlands." There are two useless interlude tracks as well, and "When Your Words are Obsolete" is structurally the only musical anomaly, using a pseudo-thrash spine stitched to the band's infatuation with basic black metal, but it's about as exciting as it sounds.
Maybe they just like being lost in a crowd. The kings of background black metal, if you will. Overall, nothing separates "Ashlands" from groups that sound identical to Rev 16:8, and the Swedes still struggle to heave anything relevant. Ordinary black metal riffs and blast beats are pretty cool, but overusing both techniques in a fashion which sucks the life and decency out of them is certainly not. It becomes fairly difficult to embrace the monotonous unoriginality which plagues Rev 16:8 indefinitely, and "Ashlands" ends up celebrating the mediocre topics of brutal black metal instead of finding and exploiting a topical climax within Rev 16:8.