Genre: Epic skaldic metal
Full Length: Traces
Format: Digital, CD
Release date: May 13, 2022
With "Traces," I can forget the negative feedback among metal fans on social media: new bands that sound alike, whether bands limit themselves musically or lyrically, whether a band is "female fronted" or not, ad infinitum. Listening to Ash Of Ashes allows me to follow them on their journey and become completely involved. Whether you like them or not is ultimately subjective.
While I missed their debut recording "Down the White Waters", "Traces" grew on me quickly, calling to mind Enslaved, Borknagar and Windir records, reaching back even further into the past to when power metal was born in the 1980s. Despite Ash Of Ashes being German rather than Norwegian, their song "Traces" illustrates how epic and pagan components of black metal can transcend national boundaries. Anyone can make this statement given the right amount of atmosphere and abrasiveness.
Cover art designed by Christopher Rakkestad, music and lyrics attempt to convey the idea of embarking once again on a journey of exploration or conquest, while adding a more romantic touch than ever. This again piqued my interest in their first album and made me want to check out how their expeditions actually started, and how timeless their explorations of unknown lands are.
It is the finest black, pagan and Viking metal bands who make their albums sound more like a narrative rather than just a collection of tracks. On "Traces", Ash Of Ashes take time to bring this epic tale to life, so much so that you can picture the vast oceanic expanses and distant lands sprawling before you from the beginning, feel the distant cold, taste the sea salt, and sense the possibility of dying in battle at the end of this epic journey. After it is over, this tale will transcend death, leaving its mark on eternity.
To inspire countless listeners for years to come, Ash Of Ashes reach the place where legends are born. Though we don't know who told this story or when he lived, we can sense how long his spirit has endured, searching forever for new shorelines, breaking through the veil to tell us what he discovered. Amidst what would seem like hell to many, the endless passage of time fuels his endless curiosity and passion for journeying to long-forgotten countries. Even though he's long gone, we come to understand his longing.
This story ends with a nice touch when the speaker's family remains in the land he left behind. They look forward to his return home, knowing he is with them in spirit and remembering his sacrifices. As long as they live on earth and beyond, they make it possible for his story to be told and remembered. Transcending life and death, "Traces" goes beyond what we know of extreme metal. –Dave Wolff
1. Beyond White Waters
2. Under the Midnight Sun
3. Into Eternity
4. The Eternal Traveller
6. Vem kan segla förutan vind
7. A Lion Guards Our Names
9. To Those Long Forgotten