Music Review: Ashen Reach – The Fear

Written by: Nick Ashton


Album Title:

Release Date:

Ashen Reach

The Fear

22nd March 2024

Fear. Noun. An unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain or harm.

It can divide us and it can unite us. It can protect us, motivate us and it can leave us crippled with doubt. Fear can act as a safeguard and it can be abused to exert control. It is a complex and confusing emotion; and it is the subject of Ashen Reach’s highly anticipated EP.

Ashen Reach’s sound on debut album Homecoming spanned the boundary between driving hard rock and modern alternative metal. On The Fear they have taken a conscious decision to move away from traditional tropes in order to explore more modern sounds. The five songs presented here have a denser, darker sound. Despite slimming down to a quartet, there is now more depth to their sound thanks to greater use of orchestral backing. Might this change in sound lose them some fans? Possibly. Will it gain them many more? Absolutely.

Opening track Ghosts was also the first single to be released and fired a warning shot to say that the band’s sound has evolved. Still instantly recognisable as Ashen Reach, thanks to Kyle Stanley’s soaring vocals, it soon becomes apparent that there has been an (r)evolution in their sound. The guitars are still riffy, thanks to Paddy Cummins and Joe O’Sullivan, and Jess Stanley’s drums are as rock solid and driving as ever. But my, oh my have the spaces in between been filled with something special. Using orchestration and keyboard effects to maximum advantage, this tale of a haunted house sends shivers down your spine as the things that lurk in the shadows jump out to surprise more effectively than most horror films.

The only song that has yet to be released on an unsuspecting audience is D1v1de which talks about the voices in the media and politics who seek to divide us by spreading hatred and fear. Starting with a discordant drum pattern which echoes the chaos and division of the song, the main riff soon kicks in harder and heavier than we have experienced so far from the band. As a counterpoint the vocals are melodic and ethereal, before Kyle expresses his anger and bile via a harsh and biting condemnation of those attempting to manipulate the everyday lives of the little people. The overall effect is both uplifting, in the way that only aggressive music can achieve, and thought provoking.

…a great example of the maturation in Ashen Reach’s song writing; they lead you to believe that a song is going one way and then suddenly flip it into another quite different direction

We shift sounds and direction once more on Neophobia which starts with a bouncing almost dance-like synthesiser melody that soon gives way to a darker, heavier driving guitar riff. This is a great example of the maturation in Ashen Reach’s song writing; they lead you to believe that a song is going one way and then suddenly flip it into another quite different direction. It also fits perfectly with the message of the song which tackles the fear of all things new and taps into current concerns being raised about AI. Special mention must be made here of Kyle’s vocals which are simply stunning on this song. If you have seen the band play live you know that he can hit those high notes, and boy does he do so here. He switches effortlessly from a clean melody to a controlled growling scream before he hits one of those long high notes that venture into the frequency range inhabited by bats. Be prepared to be stunned when the band tours later this year.

The final single to be released shortly ahead of the EP itself is The Dark which is quite simply the heaviest song that Ashen Reach have recorded. The song itself describes a metalhead’s average Saturday night attempting to summon the Dark Lord himself. As you do. Except this time it works and hell is literally let loose with demons pouring out of the portal that has been opened to the fiery pits below. So, as you can imagine, this song is not going to have a light fluffy melody; oh no. It is dark, putrid and gut churningly heavy with a staccato riff that evokes perfectly the evil incarnate that has been released. You can almost smell the sulphur as Kyle wails “my God, what have we done?”. Yet it also contains a beautiful soaring solo from Paddy which hints, perhaps, that all is not lost. Except of course, that is a false hope as in the end we are all damned when the down-tuned demonic riff stutters relentlessly towards you to drag you down to meet Satan himself.

The final track on the EP, Lost, has racked up a staggering 44K views on YouTube since its release a month ago. Not bad for a band from Merseyside who, until recently, have worked independently and have done things their way; growing a fanbase through shear hard work and quality music. Lost itself describes the emotions experienced by someone who has been lost at sea, cast into a stormy night without hope of being rescued. With a melody that evokes perfectly the rise and fall of waves tossing the helpless body back and forth with immense and insurmountable power, we follow the emotional journey from confusion to terror to that moment of calm when the inevitable is accepted and almost welcomed. By the end all that is left is the sea and another lost soul.

Welcome to Ashen Reach v2.0. Don’t be afraid; embrace the future.



Check out Ashen Reach on their website and social pages:








Band Members

Kyle Martyn Stanley – Vocals

Paddy Cummins – Lead Guitar & Vocals

Jess Stanley – Drums

Joe O’Sullivan – Rhythm Guitar

Track Listing

  1. Ghosts
  2. D1v1de
  3. Neophobia
  4. The Dark
  5. Lost
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