With the 2018 debut “Down The White Waters“, singer, guitarist and composer Skaldir attracted attention across genres. The triumphant EPIC SKALDIC METAL of ASH OF ASHES could even book several media top rankings worldwide.
The fact that the exceptional aesthete from Germany was so successful right from the start with his successor band to HEL, founded in 2014, was primarily due to the captivatingly artistic musicality of this unique album.
The necessary time, which the talented maestro left himself for the now appearing successor, fully benefits every single piece on “Traces” without exception.
Everything should be as accomplished as equally natural and organic – as the wonderfully picturesque artwork of the talented Norwegian Christopher Rakkestad clearly shows. A feast for tasteful eyes.
- Beyond White Waters (instrumental) 02:55
- Under the Midnight Sun 05:34
- Into Eternity (feat. Lars Jensen) 05:20
- The Eternal Traveller 04:41
- Evermore 04:35
- Vem kan segla förutan vind (trad., feat. Thomas Clifford) 02:17
- A Lion Guards Our Names 04:11
- Southbound 05:19
- To Those Long Forgotten (feat. Rúnahild & Christopher Rakkestad) 05:13
total: 40:26 min.
Greetings from Metalheads Forever Magazine, I’m Keith Clement, the Head of the Magazine, how are you today?
Skaldir: Hey Keith, I’m doing fine on this warm spring day here in Germany. Happy to dig into your questions. How are you?
Traces is scheduled to be released on May 13, Can you tell me about the songwriting and production behind the album?
Skaldir: The songwriting started right when our debut album was out. I wrote all the music by myself again, so I can write whenever I feel like. The songs were in demo form first and then worked on a bit more before they were recorded. Since I don’t write the lyrics but the vocals melodies, I mostly sing some kind of gibberish that isn’t even a language. But it’s enough for Morten to write lyrics based on that, thankfully. The recordings were then spread out over several months. Since I’m a sound engineer, I also mixed and mastered the album in my studio. Took some time before I was happy with the result. When you look back, you don’t understand how everything could take so long. But an album is forever, so it shouldn’t be put out before everything is the way you wanted it to be.
Was there a concept put behind this album?
Skaldir: The main concept behind this album is the term “journey”. That was at least the idea before we started working on it. Journeys to new grounds, and into death. The question was – What are the traces we leave behind, what will stay, what will fade? Those are some of the topics, but it isn’t a real concept album in the classic sense.
Cover art seems to have a deeper meaning, can you tell me about the story behind it?
Skaldir: On one hand, the cover should display what the music sounds like. On the other hand, we tried to weave in some details of the lyrics into the landscape. But that is pretty abstract and hard to point out. I’m sure if somebody really wants to do a deep dive into the music and lyrics while observing the artwork, they can find connections between the lyrics and the artwork.
One key element are the paths in the picture.
2018’s Down The White Waters, now your second album “Traces” is to be released, how do you feel about the new album compared to the debut?
Skaldir: For me the debut album was a pretty consistent unit. It makes sense, because nobody knew the band and what to expect from our sound. So you set the course for the future on the band. On “Traces” I felt it is possible to go some new paths and experience a bit more. The songs are a bit more diverse although they still have our trademarks in it. The folk part was reduced a bit, but it is still there, as well as the epic and melodic soundscapes. I am sure that people that liked the debut can easily connect to the new one.
What would be the release day plans for Ash of Ashes?
Skaldir: Although I haven’t planned anything yet, I think I will just lay back and see how people receive the album. One single is already out, so we already got some feedback from our listeners.
How is the touring for Ash Of Ashes this year?
Skaldir: There is nothing planned yet, because of the unsteady situation in the last years. If somebody wants to book us, please get in contact.
Can you tell me how it all started for the band, and how you guys got together to form Ash Of Ashes?
Skaldir: When my old band HEL broke up in 2012, I took a break from this kind of music, but after two years I felt the urge to start a new project that plays this style. I just wanted to play this music again, so I started to write songs and then searched for a partner that can help me with the lyrics. I knew Morten from “The Pagan Herald”, an underground music magazine, and we started to talk about Ash of Ashes. We had all the time in the world to finish the first album “Down the White Waters”. I could play most of the instruments, but I needed a drummer and found him in Dennis, who was a friend of my old HEL bandmate Valdr. When we decided to bring the project on stage, Dennis unfortunately didn’t have the time for a live commitment. So for the live band I found Alboin (Bass, Vocals) and Sethras (Guitar) who knew drummer Stryx. Sethras and Stryx also play on the new record. Although I still rather see Ash of Ashes as a project as I really enjoy having total musical freedom in the songwriting, I also like what other people can bring to the table. I experienced it all the time, also with the guest singers. Every musician brings in his own qualities, which can improve songs in a good way.
How does the musical journey been so far?
Skaldir: I’ve been playing in bands since 1992 and all I can say is that music is a pretty crazy hobby a person can have! It’s time-consuming and most of the time you’re burning money, but it is also extremely rewarding on the other hand. There are some albums in my career I’m very proud of, and the two Ash of Ashes albums are definitely among them. So we’re happy with what we achieved so far. People seem to like it. We can’t ask for more.
What would be some of the great moments that you had?
Skaldir: Standing on the big Ragnarök stage and looking into the eyes of people was a really memorable moment for me. When nobody knew what to expect from our first gig… there was a strange tension in the room that got released once all the instruments kicked in after the intro. It was very special and will stay with me forever.
How does Ash of Ashes look into the future?
Skaldir: When a new album is out, you only lean back for a short time before you want to write new music. I already started working on some new material.
What is Skaldic Metal? Do you follow the ancient poetry of Norway of the Scalds?
Skaldir: You’re right, the Skalds were Old Norse poets. Although we don’t write in the way they did, we also see ourselves as storytellers with our music. We want to keep some stories alive and also write some new ones ourselves.
What would be upcoming plans for the band?
Skaldir: There are two singles scheduled before the album will be released. So people will get a good taste of “Traces”. We will promote the album some more and then start writing the next one.
Finally what would be the message for the fans?
Skaldir: First of all, thank you, Keith, for doing an interview with us and giving us the opportunity to appear in your Metalheads Forever Magazine. We would appreciate if every interested reader gave our music a listen. Spread the word if you like it, metalheads need to stick together to be strong!
Skaldir • Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards, Bass
Morten • Lyrics, Vocals
Sethras • (Live)Guitars
Stryx • (Live)Drums