Black Tape's third full album takes the band to a new level of grace; while bandleader Rosenthal's work remains generally consistent - ambient soundscapes mingled with low-key rock mood pieces, backing Rosenthal's varying studies of romantic obsession and fragmentation - the various performances here are more involving than ever. Herrera and Kenny-Smith return as the major vocalists, along with Rosenthal himself on 'slight vocals' and electronics; a bevy of other guest performances flesh out the album as a whole, from guitars to clarinet and violin. The opening title track proved to be the best Black Tape song up to that point, starting with a gentle wash of electronics suddenly punctuated by a tribal percussion hit - wonderfully echoed and layered for atmosphere - and Kenny-Smith's delicate take on the lyrics. Herrera himself gets to shine in the very next number, "Across A Thousand Blades," one of the more overtly goth-rock numbers Black Tape has recorded, with a pulsing rhythm, Cure/Banshees-like guitar and fretless bass adding to Herrera's anguished performance. The rest of the album doesn't quite match up to such an excellent beginning, but as a consistent collection of songs and performances, Ashes is never anything less that tastefully atmospheric, and often more than that, a perfect soundtrack to a late night.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett