ASH OF ASHES
DOWN THE WHITE WATERS
Release: September 21, 2018
Ash of Ashes is the new project of Skaldir (ex-HEL), who is responsible for the vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards and the composition, and Morten, who wrote the lyrics and helped with the vocals. Between the two of them, plus some help from friends and fellow musicians, they put together a well-crafted, and balanced album with a very beautiful folky side, in the form of “Down the white waters”, which was released on September 21, via Kalthallen Tonträgen.
With compositions that are always accessible, catchy vocal melodies, groovy guitar lines, poetic lyrics and the occasional melancholy feel, the album is really enjoyable all the way through. Not all that heavy, despite the occasional harsh vocals / growls, this could be the soundtrack of TV series “Vikings” without any of the songs feeling out of place there. I could even imagine the atmospheric title track “Down the white water” as the opening theme of the show, as it has that epic, folky vibe going for it. Another highlight of the album is the short instrumental piece “Springar”, which is based on a traditional melody that Skaldir interpreted and arranged in his own way.
Down the white waters
Flames on the horizon
Ash to ashes
Sea of stones
Seven winters long (the way of Wayland)
In chains (the way of Wayland)
The Queen’s lament (the way of Wayland)Chambers of stone (the way of Wayland)
On the heavier side, we have such tracks like the guitar driven, up-tempo folk-rocker “Flames on the horizon”, or the doom-ish “Ash to ash”, which brings to mind Paradise Lost, and where the back and forth between the cleans and the growls gives it a nice dynamic. The melodic “Sea of Stones” also has some doom-ish vibes working for it, and thus furthers the dark ambiance of the album even more. The album also features a tetralogy (a four-song concept), titled “The way of Wayland” which tells the Germanic heroic legend of Wayland the Smith with pathos and gusto. The first part is the folky “Seven winters long” which features a Hardanger fiddle played by the wonderful Runahild (from the band Eliwagar), giving it an air of authenticity and Nordic beauty. “In chains” continues the story with powerful drums, aggressive guitars, and some growls, while “The Queen’s lament” is more up-tempo and melodic, in a very power metal kind of way. “Chambers of stone” has some chugging guitar lines and a nice balance of cleans and harsh vocals. The piano-driven “Outro” closes the album on a very melancholy note.
There are many influences in the songs, ranging from Iron Maiden and Helloween, to Moonsorrow and Paradise Lost, but the album feels very cohesive and coherent overall, as everything is blended in neatly and with style, which says so much about Skaldir’s songwriting skills. The album’s best feature is that it manages to avoid all the metal clichés you generally find in an album, as the songs are highly original and diverse, echoing different moods and feels, as the story requires, reason why “Down the white water” is so much more than your average Viking / folk metal album. It’s charming and exquisite in its simplicity and dark atmosphere.
Skaldir – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboard
Morten – vocals, lyrics