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. LEPROUS‘ Tobias 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)
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.
Heidi Tveitan (Ihriel) is busy working on a new STAROFASH album, currently carrying the title Lakhesis. The album is planned for a release early next year. Tveitan posted a short update describing the new material:
“I am approximately half way there in the song-writing process, and quite happy with the direction it is taking. Musically this album will be more up-beat and rock oriented than before, and also more vocal driven. I spent more time on the compositional stage, exploring different compositional techniques and forms. All material is written on piano, pen and paper to focus fully on the actual song rather than production.”
STAROFASH‘s last release was a special release via her label, Mnemosyne Productions, for the soundtrack to the Irish film, Ulterior, which came out earlier this year.
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)
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)