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Traces Into Eternity with Ash of Ashes

Traces Into Eternity with Ash of Ashes

Skaldir 2022 • Foto: Thomas Skroch

Traces Into Eternity with Ash of Ashes

Presenting vast and epic metal in the style of Viking-era Bathory and Moonsorrow, Ash of Ashes has returned after a pandemic slumber.  The German band has unleashed Traces, their latest magnum opus, upon the world at large.  An ambitious work of sonic artistry, band leader Skaldir and his co-conspirators will absolutely intrigue the listener with their spellbinding tapestries.  Highwire Daze recently interviewed Skaldir to find out more about Ash of Ashes and their gripping music.  Read on…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Ash of Ashes, and how long the band has been together.  Where is the band based out of and what is the local music/metal scene like there?
Skaldir: Hello Ken. Lovely to chat with you! I’m Skaldir, the singer, guitarist and songwriter of the band ASH OF ASHES. I started the band as a successor of my band HEL that broke up in late 2012. We’re based in Germany, with me living in the western part and my mate Morten living in the most northern part of Germany. I don’t really feel like a part of the local music scene here, to be honest. Maybe it’s because we’re no teenagers any more. I guess 25 years ago, I would have told you more about the local scene. 😉 But at the moment I have the feeling, especially with two years of Covid, that we kinda have to start again and rebuild.

Is there any overall story or concept behind the album title Traces?
Skaldir: It’s not a concept album in a strict sense, but the main concept behind this album was the term “journey”. That was at least the idea before we started working on it. Journeys to new grounds, and into death. What are the traces we leave behind, what will stay, what will fade. Those are some of the topics.

Select two songs from Traces and what inspired the lyrics.
Skaldir: My mate Morten is responsible for all lyrics of the album, but I can tell you a bit about “Into Eternity”. It’s about the remembrance and thoughts someone has when he has to say goodbye to a dying friend. It also opens the topic of what will remain when we have to go.

Artwork: Christopher Rakkestad

Who did the cover art for Traces and how much input did you have on it?
Skaldir: After we agreed on the title “Traces,Morten and I talked about the cover. It should fit the general feeling of the songs, so we needed an epic landscape. We talked about some details of the songs that might also be seen on the cover. The paths, the mountains and sea, and a more astral idea.

Christopher Rakkestad then painted the cover. He is also a musical guest on this album, and we just happened to talk about the album artwork. Originally, I wanted to ask another painter, but after that didn’t happen, I thought why not give Christopher a shot as he plans to venture more into this artistic direction anyway. He came up with a few drafts and then started painting. It took him a bit longer than he anticipated, because the level of detail was pretty high. The result, however, turned out absolutely amazing, and we’re happy we went with him.

How did Lars Jensen of Myrkgrav become involved with the song Into Eternity?
Skaldir: Lars and I are long-time friends, since I did mastering work for his Myrkgrav albums. He stopped making music a few years ago and is now a bootmaker. But I really wanted to have him play a guest guitar solo on the album. In the end, he didn’t play a guitar solo, but instead sang this duet with me. It was important to me that the guests on this album are all people I respect and am friends with, since I’m generally not into name-dropping for the sake of it. So every guest on this album is a friend and a great person.

What could one expect from a live Ash of Ashes show?
Skaldir: An Ash of Ashes concert is all about the music. There are no masks and costumes to be seen, because we just want to let the music speak. OK, this sounds a bit boring… but it is what it is. Anyway, after the two-year break, we want to meet again soon and rehearse the new songs. Our live members Strxy and Sethras also play on “Traces” btw.

What was the experience like performing at the Ragnarök Festival in 2019 and who were some of the other bands on the bill?
Skaldir: It was great to play there. I think you can’t reach more people in this niche of music than at this festival. So we saw a lot of happy faces when we were playing. I’m happy the show was filmed.

There were a lot of cool bands like BORKNAGAR, TYR, HEIDEVOLK. I also got to see and meet our friends of DORNENREICH and EIS there. To be honest, they have a great line-up every year. We hope we can play there again soon.

If Ash of Ashes could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Skaldir: I think a good tour package would be ASH OF ASHES, MOONSORROW, BATHORY!

If Ash of Ashes were invited to appear on a Tribute To Bathory album, what song by Bathory would you select to cover and why?
Skaldir: We already covered “Through blood by thunder” with my previous band HEL, but I think if I would cover another Bathory song, it would be one from “Blood on ice”. Maybe “God of thunder of wind and of rain” or “The lake”. At least I think I could do these songs justice. If I’d do a song from the “Hammerheart” album, I think it just could sound worse or lose the spirit it has.

Are you involved with any other bands or projects outside of Ash of Ashes?
Skaldir: Since I listen to a variety of different styles, I also have bands that play very different styles of music. ELANE (Fantasy Folk), ABSCESSION (Old school Swedish death metal), OVER THE HILL (Irish Folk). It was always important to me that there are no two bands I play in that have similar styles. That wouldn’t make any sense to me. But I can also understand when people think it’s weird to cover a stylistic range that big.

What do you hope the rest of 2022 brings for Ash of Ashes and for the worldwide music community?
Skaldir: Our first album single “Into Eternity” is already out with two more digital singles following before the album “Traces” will be released on the 13th of May 2022. We honestly hope people are hungry for new music. I really have to get used to going to concerts again. And I just hope bands are getting back on track after this dry period.

Any final words of wisdom?
Skaldir: My wisdom is limited, but I’d like to quote German lyricist Damaris Wieser here: “Not having time is just hiding your priorities.” I often think about this, and it is always true. So next time you’re telling somebody that you have no time, think about what it really means.

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. And congrats on the very amazing album!
Skaldir: Thanks a lot for this interview, Ken! Best wishes to you, your online mag and radio!

(Interview by Ken Morton)

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