Only every few years appears in the spiritual-natural, epic-pagan area of the upscale Heavy Metal, a very special album classic, which seeks on a wide, artistic area of its kind.
And “Down The White Waters”, the debut longplayer of Ash of Ashes, joins this exquisite guild quite clearly and sublime.
The always accessible, often highly catchy and even clearly hit-capable compositions wander with healthy pride on melancholy, partly sad levels.
But the musical soul of the band is free of bitterness and always focused on timeless aesthetics.
The strongly poetic, emphatically artistic and aesthetic style of Ash of Ashes is best described as EPIC SKALDIC METAL.
Composing master Skaldir, who became known with the dissolved predecessor group Hel, wrote and arranged fabulously independent songs full of longing and passion, which inevitably instantly grab the soul of a real lover of such art.
Only the catchy instrumental “Springar” is based on a traditional melody that Skaldir interpreted and arranged in his own way.
By means of playfully beguiling folklore offerings of the Scandinavian key-fiddle, the ‘Nyckelharpa’, the two numbers “Ash to Ash” and “Springar” are refined into shiny genre pearls. Here is Mathias Gyllengahm, otherwise active in the bands Norrsinnt and Utmarken, fully in his favorite element.
In turn, the track “Seven Winters Long” is upgraded as attractively as stylish by the Norwegian-based, shamanic active nature-lover Runahild with the Hardanger fiddle.
As unmistakable influences for the majestically uplifting, Nordic-blissful music of Ash of Ashes, Bathory during the Viking era is called by the author with full conviction, as well as the splendor of Moonsorrow as well as traditional Metal like Helloween’s “Keeper” albums along with the eternal classics of Iron Maiden.
The result for “Down The White Waters” is a highly original, fully dynamic and ultimately completely homogeneous blend of enjoyment that does not lack massive power thrusts or driving-impulsive emotional wealth.
For Skaldir, while working on the song material, was always in the foreground, just like the aforementioned bands with their albums, to create a timeless classic that has no signs of wear and tear.
In terms of content, the extraordinarily profound release revolves around mythological, historical, legendary themes, but also around inspiring themes as departure, homecoming and remembrance.
Co-vocalist Morten is responsible for all lyrics on “Down The White Waters”.
Within the album, there is also a four song concept called “The Lay Of Wayland”, which tells the Germanic heroic legend of Wayland the Smith.
And Morten reveals exciting things:
“The legend of Wayland the Smith offers different moods and different storylines in a relatively small space, which makes them interesting for me. In addition, the legend has not been set to music – at least to my knowledge – by other bands and that was a big plus for me, because as a listener I do not always would like to find the same topics and stories – for example Edda and Viking raids – in the lyrics, but also want to get to know something unknown or less known. I came into contact with the legend during my stay abroad in England in 2005, when I began to dig deeper into the Anglo-Saxon epoch of England, its history, myths and literature. I first became attentive to the legend when I saw the jewelry box in the British Museum, known as ‚Franks Casket‘. On this is amongst others a representation with scenes from the Wayland legend. The box dates back to the 8th century, so that the legend of Wayland must already be far older – antique role models or similarities to, for example, ‘Daidalos’ are obvious here. As the lyrical concept of the album slowly condensed, there were four songs left with different moods and then the legend came back to my mind and the described stages from Wayland’s life fit in well very quickly.”
Recorded as well as thoroughly processed by mixing and mastering, the longplayer was edited in the band’s own production rooms, in Skaldir’s established Kalthallen Studios.
In it, the trained sound engineer mixes and masters the music releases of other artists as a versatile all-rounder.
“Down The White Waters” is a self-confessed manifesto and musical monument in one.
Two precious people, involved in this great, moving album, died tragically early before the release:
Sandra Preuß, a longtime friend who made Skaldir’s portrait photo and graphic artist Samuel Samos, who created the captivating Ash of Ashes band logo.
Both are mourned in dignity with the songs.
Read our review here.