Anyone who knows my tastes knows that I really appreciate novelty and stereotypes pretty much the same amount, but at the end of the day it all depends on the band in question as to whether or not it’s pulled off. That’s just how it works as it’s hard to be objective with this music, but it’s with folk metal that I am by the far the most judgemental of as I love it when bands go all out with the folkloric elements, but if a balance can be made I’m more than open to listen. At first, Ash of Ashes’ latest release felt incredibly watered down, but slowly blossomed into something quite scrumptious.
If your folk metal material isn’t going to have a boatload of folkloric instruments that people like me can’t get enough of then you better have the power behind your material to really bring it home to make it entertaining. With the opening track of “Down the White Waters”, I admittedly didn’t feel anything as it was catchy a little, sure, but other than that there wasn’t a lot of substance as the individual parts had no complaints from me but brought together they simply didn’t gel all that great. But almost immediately with the second track, it feels like Ash of Ashes found their sound all of a sudden as the rest of “Down the White Waters” is exemplary from top to bottom. It’s a real tour de force of pagan folk metal that has a tasteful amount of crunch to it so those of us who want it heavy get it, we who want some of the folkloric instruments that I can’t shut up about actually get some in top fashion, and the songwriting alongside the overall instrumentation is nothing of short of delicious. The only thing I wish Ash of Ashes would incorporate more are some more harsh vocals as we get them but in extremely limited moments and I’d love to see them go alongside the cleans that still work well by themselves, and thankfully the whole of “Down the White Waters” isn’t damaged by that as this German act proves their worth quickly after I figured I stumbled across another dud of an album. I love it when the universe proves me wrong, and this is a shining, brilliant example of that.
The last few months have been quite good to me when it comes to quality folk metal with the likes of Selvans, Hordak, and Crystalmoors coming back to impress me, and it’s Ash of Ashes that effortlessly add themselves to that list of top-notch folk metal that I’d love to see more of. If “Down the White Waters” is just the beginning, then I truly can’t see where Ash of Ashes can take their sound as it’s a tasty record that has loads of potential to it.
LISTEN to “Down the White Waters” on Bandcamp here.
LIKE Ash of Ashes on Facebook here.