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Ashes You Leave - Songs of the Lost
CD Reviews
Written by Doctor T.   
Monday, 18 June 2012
Ashes You Leave - CD Review
Songs of the Lost
Ashes You Leave - Song of the Lost

 

CD Info

2009
Sleazy Riders Records

9 Tracks

English Lyrics

 

This isn’t a new release; it’s from 2009 which is a long time ago in the music business. But, they’re a big name band and we don’t have anything on the Zine from them, and they have performed at MFVF(2005), and I really like their music. There is a new release in the works, should be out late this Fall assuming everything goes well. There will be changes, there’s a new vocalist and that can certainly have an impact. But this release is some of the best music you’re going to hear, Croatia providing some fine music across the board. And that music has history, the band being formed in the mid-90s, at a time when the principle occupation of most Croatians was just staying alive during that genocidal time. Their early music was classified as doom metal, maybe appropriate given the times, I can’t imagine any country whose musicians had a more legitimate claim to the use of the term. Their early titles reflected that reality; The Passage Back to Life, Desperate Existence and others. Songs of the Lost was the band’s 5th major release. It took the band in some new directions, primarily the more prevalent Gothic format that was sweeping Europe at that time. The sound featured a new vocalist, Tamara Mulaosmanovic, and a stunning set list of Gothic sounds, augmented by a haunting violin, solid death metal vocals, beautiful harmonies and crunching guitar riffs, in short, pretty close to perfection.

The CD reflects several directions, the first being, of course, that Gothic sound, created with several components including the keyboard symphonics, the violin and the duel male / female vocals. However, the band was initially influenced by the sounds of My Dying Bride and we continue to get some of that here, especially in the darker, slower sounds that reflect their earlier doom metal direction. This latter perspective is especially apparent in tracks like the cover of Placebo’s Every You, Every Me which takes the song in some relatively new directions, especially with the killer violin intro. The track kicks it into a second gear towards the end, again over that soulful violin, but provides a singularly different interpretation to the original sound, something hard to do with a song that was as good as this one was originally.

You tend to get the more Gothic tracks at the beginning; three of the first four could be classified this way with the fourth being close. We begin with Apathy Overdose (note the flute here which was originally a primary instrument with the band) which has seen several interpretations, including this more complete version from the CD which includes the violin instead of the flute. You also get the lyrics in this second version, and they give you some indications as to the strength of that component. There’s still a bit of the doom element but this is certainly more clearly interpreted as a Gothic sound.

Much the same can be said for the second track The Feast which clearly follows a Gothic direction. The drums tend to drive the track but that haunting vocal over the metal guitars, positioned against the male death metal remind us that there is universality to pain. And the lyrics again confirm our assumption:

Imagine me like a lie and offer me your smile / Discover my truth and you'll wish to die
The world isn't real, the illusion is strong / give me your hand and I'll show you how long
Take a bite and feast with me / The taste of sin will set you free
Take this gift to find your way / No need to kneel, no need to pray

The title track, well, it’s close to a title track, provides certainly one of the highlights of the CD. Song of the Lost utilizes the full arsenal of the band, certainly some of the best guitar work, some of the best vocal work, but without much violin. That violin seems to appear more regularly in the doom metal tracks. However this one is upbeat, it’s almost danceable Gothic with a pounding percussion to carry us into the land of the lost. But the lyrical work makes sure we understand that this is aimed at less upbeat ideas:

How was I supposed to know / That a wounded soul would heal so slow
You needed love but love is dead / Ready to paint the world in red
Why did you ever let me see / The death in life and the death in me
The tears shall forever fall

The second part of the CD tends to follow more of a doom metal approach, the tone darkens, the beat is reduced, the vocals become more mournful. This is a link to the earlier sounds of the band, we get more of the violin and it doesn’t provide a pretty picture. There are other components here, Taints is something of a folk sound, complete with acoustic guitars. We get an interesting interpretation of the sound here with Tamara on keyboards. Notice the influence of the violin, this is not the Irish application of that instrument, here the intent is to provide a very different emotion, one that seems to capture an interpretation that many in the East are more comfortable with. The CD version is somewhat more intense, more drum work, a more diligent guitar component, but with that same doom framework.

Other tracks on the second half of the CD provide an even more direct interpretation of the doom metal approach. Losing Faith is introduced as a vocally driven sound. There is a fuller instrumental component as the song moves forward, again framed by that dark violin. It’ll be a while before you forget that violin; this is something you rarely hear in the West. Blackthorn does a bit of it in their latest release but it’s a different approach to the instrument. We still get some solid guitars from Berislav Poje and Matija Rempesic but it is the violin of Marta Batinic that seems to drive much of the second half of the work. Where the Pain Is continues this theme, again with an instrumental component that sets the tone of the track. Doom metal can be beautiful, and it is here. The violin again takes us to darker places and, with this track, darkness is the order of the day. The final track, Soul of Ice, makes sure we realize that there is a less hopeful reality beyond our recognition. We begin with a whispered voice over that ever present violin. This one works at the pace of a death trance, we are taken to places where hope has no rights of visitation. Beautiful, but in the sense of a funeral in the sunlight, hope resides, but encompassed in a sheet of remorse.

2012 will see a new release: The Cure for Happiness. The new vocalist is Ms. Giada "Jade" Etro, you see her in the new stuff from their live performances. She’s an Italian, go figure. But this is Croatian material, doesn’t matter much where the vocalist comes from and the Italians don’t take a back seat in this kind of music. It’s something to look forward to, but, in the meantime, Songs of the Lost pretty much provides everything you need in Gothic metal. Croatian metal; metal with history.

9.5 / 10

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