2 Calendar Leaves
3 A Song of Rain
4 I Will Never Die
5 Let My Heart Remain Cold
6 I Became a Ghost Today
7 Orchids Fade
8 Light of Asia (Book VIII)
9 Frozen (Madonna cover)
12 Last Toast
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Genres: Apocalyptic Folk, Darkwave, Neoclassical
For fans of: Qntal, Estampie, Audra, Love is Colder Than Death, Ophelia’s Dream
Inspired by a resplendent tapestry of apocalyptic folk, gothic, and neoclassical influences, Unto Ashes’ first album in four years is an enigmatic excursion into existential terror; of bliss and tragedy; of love and beauty; of hope in the face of universal void. To quote Aeschylus (whose words appear in the first song), Orchids Grew Here is tantamount to an exploration into “the awful grace of God.”
The twelve illuminated sound-paintings are both enchanted and enchanting — they venture into a future of non-existence from a garden of withered orchids to interstellar black holes. The band’s eleventh Projekt Records album is alive with delicate instrumentation sown with poetic narratives of philosophical and romantic musing.
The synergy of core members Michael Laird, Bret Helm, and Ericah Hagle is expressed in soft, at times haunting vocals, wandering through panoramas of passion, darkness, and introspection. Lead vocalist Laird has a soft, redolent voice conjuring the spirit of Nick Drake. Helm’s distinctive voice is reminiscent of Peter Murphy, and Hagle’s complex, ethereal harmonies appear prominently as soloist on “Starfish.”
Unto Ashes was founded in 1997 by multi-instrumentalist Laird. Through his work as an antiquarian bibliographer, he discovered many obscure texts that continue to inspire his music. This album offers passages from Aeschylus, the founder of tragedy (Greece, 525 BCE – 465 BCE), Christina Rossetti (England, 1830-1894), Edwin Arnold (England, 1832-1904), Ethel Clifford (England, 1876-1959) and Anna Akhmatova (Russia, 1889-1966).
A less obscure text is found on the indelible cover of Madonna’s “Frozen” reimagined with waves of acoustic guitar, fervent vocals from Helm, and an Arabic-sounding cello duet.
With uncanny alchemy of instrumentation ranging from the medieval (hurdy-gurdy, viola da gamba, dulcimers) to the modern (analog synthesizers, tape loops, etc.) and bewitching vocals, Unto Ashes delivers mystery, elegance, melancholy, and — ultimately — triumph.