Ashbringer Credit: Logan Ahern

Minnesota-based guitarist, composer, and vocalist Nick Stanger is only 22, but he’s already built a promising portfolio of heavy music. He started Ashbringer as a one-man band in 2013, released the ten-minute single “The Bitter Taste of Life’s Only Certainty” in 2014 and the full-length Vacant the following year, and then formed a five-piece group for his second album, 2016’s Yūgen. With their folk-inflected, dreamy sound, nods to misty ancient traditions, and devotion to themes of nature, the earth, and humankind’s insignificance in the cosmos, Ashbringer are kindred spirits to contemporaries such as New Hampshire’s Vattnet and Tennessee’s Twilight Fauna. And they’re equally able to deliver instrumental richness onstage and in the studio—the latter of which is abundantly clear on their new record, Absolution (Prosthetic). The prog inspirations and postrock complexity on the long tracks sometimes seem at odds with Stanger’s raw vocals, but when he roars on “Shrine of Loss” and the band rises up to match his ferocity, it sounds like someone who’s learned to choose their battles finally finding the one they’ve been waiting for.   v