STAROFASH – Ghouleh

Twelve years after STAROFASH‘s excellent debut, Iter.Viator, the brainchild of Heidi S. Tveitan proves to only reach new heights over the course of time.  Ghouleh, featuring a song for every month of the year plus one bonus track, is an imaginative, ethereal album.

Unlike Lakhesis, Ghouleh‘s foundation is not entirely dependent on a traditional band configuration (drums, guitar, bass).  Instead, a portion is based on electronic/programming in addition to the trademark STAROFASH classical instruments of pianos and synth.  New dimensions of the band’s sound are sometimes obvious yet often subtle.

The variety of the material is wide yet cohesive.  A song like “Shimmer” is on the grandiose side of things compared to the minimalist electronics of “Draum.”  The results are always beautiful, delicate, organic soundscapes.

What really matters most with Ghouleh is that the music is compelling and straight from the heart.  STAROFASH directly communicates with the listener on a deep level.  With music this good, it’s so easy to just drift off to another place.  One of the best albums of the year.  (Mnemosyne Productions)

STAROFASH’s New Meisterwerk Ghouleh is Available Now

Notodden, Norway’s STAROFASH, featuring Heidi S. Tveitan (ex-PECCATUM), has just released their fourth album entitled  Ghouleh.  The album is available for free streaming and purchase on Bandcamp (http://starofash-official.bandcamp.com/) in addition to iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, and Spotify.  In other words, Ghouleh is a digital only release via Mnemosyne Productions.

Here is what she had to say about the album:

“I am very happy to share the following announcement with you 🙂
Mnemosyne Productions are proud to present the fourth album from Starofash, titled ‘Ghouleh‘. This completes Heidi S. Tveitan‘s 2013 project, where she wrote, recorded and released one song for each month of the year. The album contains all twelve songs, and finishes off with a bonus track. Artwork and design by Ideophony. Photos by Heidi S. Tveitan.”

After listening to the first few tracks, it looks like STAROFASH have another winner on their hands.  Awesome.

STAROFASH: Preview Two Brand New Cuts

Norwegian avant garde band STAROFASH have been working on the follow up to 2011’s excellent, Lakhesis.  Here is what mastermind Heidi S. Tveitan had to say about the new record:

“The swift and short February is over today, and I´m almost ready to share some new music with you. When writing music, my main motivation is to create something I like, that is honest and heart felt. I often start with a chord progression, and keep writing and rewriting it, until it sounds right to me. Sometimes I add some parameters to work within, and for these two first songs of my 2013 project I wanted to:

“1. Have a winter kind of feel to them

“2. You should be able to dance to them.

“3. Approval from my number 1 fan. He´s five, and is probably the only person in the world who ranks me higher than Kiss.

“So did I succeed? I think I have number one under control, as I have sampled and used the winter, making it into beats, drums and textures. Number two can maybe be a yes if I am not very particular about it, however it´s definitely not dance club hits. Point three was a Hurrah, so that worked well 🙂

“Wishing everyone a lovely day and hope to be with you again soon x

“(If you don´t know what I am talking about and want to know more, please feel free to read my first blog post).”

Check out two new songs here: http://www.starofash.com/tagged/sounds

AGE OF SILENCE & WINDS’ Andy Winter New Solo Album Available Now

Andy Winter - IncomprehensibleKeyboardist/composer Andy Winter of WINDS and AGE OF SILENCE fame has a new solo album, Incomprehensible, which is available now via The End records.  The album features an impressive roster of guest vocalists from MADDER MORTEM, AGALLOCH, GREEN CARNATION, EDGE OF SANITY, PECCATUM, BORKNAGAR, NOVEMBERS DOOM, and WINDS.

Also appearing are Jan Axel von Blomberg aka Hellhammer (MAYHEM, WINDS), Carl August Tidemann (WINDS, ex-ARCTURUS), Øystein Moe (WINDS, ex-ULVER), Don Anderson (AGALLOCH, SCULPTURED) and Mike Young (THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT).

Having continued his approach of always applying a very genre-defying style, “Incomprehensible” is yet another unmistakable and unique record from Andy Winter, and one that provides a different experience altogether when compared to anything else in metal, or indeed most music.

STAROFASH – Lakhesis

For those familiar with STAROFASH‘s back catalogue, it’s a fact that the band’s releases are all precious gems of art. The beautiful new record, Lakhesis, is no different. Never looking to repeat themselves, the new record is distinct and unique compared to its predecessors.

Lakhesis is a predominantly guitar/piano/drum driven record with some subtle programmed samples that add color and atmosphere to the songs. Band leader Ihriel chose to write an more uptempo album that still retains those fragile quiet moments yet does not go into those ethereal, atmospheric moments on previous records.

Touch guitarist Markus Reuter returns with his unique progressive fusion style. LEPROUSTobias Ø. Andersen and Einar Solberg appear on drums and vocals, respectively. EMPEROR fans may recognize Einar Solberg from his live session work with EMPEROR for their farewell shows. He does an amazing job with his soothing yet strong vocals on songs such as “Panther in the Glove,” “Nona” and “The Fooling of the Fates.” It’s fair to say that he channels his inner Ihsahn for his performance.

Songs like “Sunlight Scattered” and “The Cereyneian Hin” are stripped down and straight forward by STAROFASH standards when it comes to the verse song sections that feature Ihriel‘s vocals, quiet guitars, and drums. Opener “Panther in the Glove” is the most decadent and heavy song on Lakhesis. Closer “The Fooling of the Fates” sucks the air out of the room due to its heavy tone and profoundness.

While Lakhesis may be the band’s most stripped down and straight forward album to date, it does not take away from the express of the band in any degree. If anything, it clearly demonstrates the songwriting mastery that we have grown accustomed to enjoying from STAROFASH. (Mnemosyne Productions/The End Records)

Video of the Day: Chillin in Norway with EMPEROR, ZYKLON, MORTIIS, and STAR OF ASH

If you’re a tried and true Norwegian black metal fan, then you know that the best of the best came out of Notodden, Norway. This is really cool Norwegian TV segment co-hosted by the Ihsahn (EMPEROR, PECCATUM, IHSAHN) and Ihriel (PECCATUM, STAR OF ASH) was supposedly first aired on January 28, 2004. They show you around their hometown as well as hang out with childhood friends/bandmates, Samoth (EMPEROR, ZYKLON, THE WRETCHED END), Trym (EMPEROR), and Mortiis (EMPEROR, MORTIIS). It’s all in Norwegian with no English subtitles but you don’t need to know the language to appreciate this.

IHSAHN: New Empires

Becoming an unquestionable underground legend as a member of EMPEROR in your teens can be a hard act to follow. However, Ihsahn has taken on the task of continuing his musical legacy with his solo albums in addition to his work in PECCATUM and HARDINGROCK. Armed with the strong artistic vision he is known for, his new solo album, angL, is a further exploration of new sounds and places for Ihsahn. One of metal’s most relevant and potent artists shared his thoughts about his artistic vision, Rob Halford, and the challenge of continuing his musical legacy.
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IHSAHN – AngL

Anyone familiar with Ihsahn’s body of work knows that his focus has always been about progressing as an artist. His new album, AngL (pronounced like “angel”), is no exception as he explores new musical realms. One marked difference between AngL and its predecessor, The Adversary, is that AngL is more progressive, a bit more experimental, and less traditional in terms of black metal. Another immediately noticeable difference is the heavier guitar sound as a result of having more than two guitar tracks as on The Adversary. Much of the material still carries that famous decadent, symphonic, black feel along with Ihsahn’s prime, technical guitar work. There are plenty of songs that blast away with intensity and fury such as opening song, “Misanthrope,” and “Malediction.” AngL also contains plenty of slithering Ihsahn-styled progressive guitar riffs and beautiful, melodic song sections. Perhaps, the best quality of the album is his honest and soulful vocals on songs such as “Elevator” and “Threnody.” The latter is hands down the best song on AngL with its acoustic guitars, fantastic clean vocal performance, and somber and delicate atmosphere. The second best song, “Monolith,” closes things out with a potent sense of tension and finality. OPETH’s Mikael Akerfeldt makes a guest appearance on “Unhealer.” His appearance does not stray too far away from the type of material that he’s known for singing. There is also some nice interplay between Ihsahn and Mikael’s contrasting distorted vocals. SPIRAL ARCHITECT bassist Lars Norberg lays down an excellent performance adding plenty of bass presence and character with his top notch skills. While AngL is not Ihsahn’s best work, it does have some very some strong songs and material that undoubtedly a reflection of his continuing evolution as one of metal’s most talented and important artists. (Candlelight Records)

STAROFASH – The Thread

STAROFASH (formerly STAR OF ASH) dropped a surprisingly delicious debut album in 2001’s Iter.Viator. Curiously, one wondered if the group, spearheaded by Ihriel (PECCATUM, HARDINGROCK, and wife of EMPEROR‘s Ihsahn), could follow-up with equal creative magic. With The Thread, STAROFASH may not have matched Iter.Viator‘s spontaneous excellence, but does succeed with equally unique musical styling and pleasing consistency. The Thread‘s dark, avant-garde, gothic rock is a slight departure from Iter.Viator, which was more heavily dressed with electronic influences. This time around, STAROFASH‘s sound is more organic provided by a more prominent bass guitar, less programmed sounding percussion, and even brass, woodwind, and stringed instruments (perhaps a HARDINGROCK influence). The music primarily revolves around Ihriel‘s simple and melodic piano and keyboard work. Her voice, still breathy and delicate, finely contributes to the post-metal, gothic overtones. Though her singing style is relatively singular, her vocal presence is just enough and never is overdone. Ihriel is also joined by vocal talent, Garm (Kristoffer G. Rygg) of ULVER/HEAD CONTROL SYSTEM, who lends very magnificent vocal melodies on “Blood Bones and Skull” and “Crossing Over.” In fact, the vocal patterns on “Crossing Over” by both Ihriel and Garm are incredibly strong and memorable, let’s hope this isn’t the last collaboration between the two. All around, The Thread is a fantastic soundtrack that may not immediately strike within, but certainly grows with lasting effectiveness. No doubt, the world needs to expose themselves to the uniqueness that is STAROFASH. (Candlelight/Mnemosyne)

STAR OF ASH – Iter.Viator.

Black Metal’s Yoko Ono has boldly proven her worth with Iter.Viator., albeit via a non-metal avenue. The artist formerly known as Ihriel (a.k.a. Heidi S. Tveitan) resurfaces anew, following the PECCATUM debacle, in the form of STAR OF ASH and convincingly shatters the crystal ball that pinned her as a clueless, shrieking, outsider who’s only on the inside by way of marriage. Iter.Viator. is a surprising DEAD CAN DANCE-esque gem of sparse sonicscapes interjected with hypnotizing beats and electronic ambience. From beginning to end, the album is a near-flawless musical journey that is artistically engaging and never drags its feet. Moods build and fall with grace, transitioning between delicate strings to classical-meets-jazz piano flair to ULVER-esque electronic/experimental stylings. Tveitan‘s vocals are pleasantly tranquil, and fortunately, STAR OF ASH suits the she-devil’s vocal capabilities far better than her previous projects. While STAR OF ASH is creatively spearheaded by Mrs. Tveitan, the influence of her hubby’s input is not unapparent. Elements of Mr. “Emperor” Tveitan‘s style of orchestral composition and experimentalism (in the form of PECCATUM, THOU SHALT SUFFER, and the oddball EMPEROR tracks) seep heavily into Iter.Viator., while still allowing STAR OF ASH to maintain its own identity. Iter.Viator. is a post-black metal slam dunk…but curiously, one still wonders if STAR OF ASH could shine so bright without the assistance from The Emperial One. (Jester Records/The End Records)