A slightly unusual CD in that it actually consists of two separate albums released as one. The entirety of the previous year's Music From the Scourging Grounds, which had not seen an American appearance, was remixed for its belated release in the States. Added to this were seven new songs, resulting in an excellent value-for-money collection, if nothing else. The Lemos/Papa/Moriarty lineup still does what it does best throughout, namely ominous, classical-tinged industrial music with an emphasis on mechanical sounds and sweeping ambience. Given Lemos' single-minded vision, it's not surprising that Ashes ended up on a label known more for its goth-influenced acts -- about the only contemporary English-language act creating music like this was British outfit In the Nursery, which similarly abandoned the trappings of straight industrial for a more unique approach. Papa isn't as controlled a singer as ITN's Klive and Nigel Humberstone, admittedly -- sometimes his aggressive moaning gets to the point where it just sounds like wailing for wailing's sake. When he's on, though, he gets Lemos' dramatic lyrics perfectly matching the music's feel and pace. Of the new tracks, "Tides of Heaven" is a strong one, clanging and pounding percussion sounds lurking deep in the mix as Papa's overdubbed vocals create a haunting chorale effect. "Scourging Ground" is another winner, solitary piano notes contrasting with full synth arrangements and Papa's singing, while "Faith" benefits from the addition of guest Linda Paganelli's saxophone. The Scourging Grounds tracks are a useful bonus for those who haven't heard them, differing little in terms of sound and theme from the later cuts. The best song from that album remains the compelling "Near the Water," given a "vocal remix" for its appearance on Ashes. Barely three minutes long, the bravura performance, heightened by Papa's excellent vocals, is one of Controlled Bleeding's best.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett