With Jester Records, you know you get outstanding pieces of music. I guess that should be common knowledge by now. And STAR OF ASH, amongst others, substantiate that allegation once more. SOA is, basically, PECCATUM without Metal. No, wait – maybe that description is a bit unfair, as SOA is the solo project of Ihriel (Heidi S. Tveitan), who wants to explore a different musical direction here. Yet, with the obvious help and guitarwork of her husband Ihsahn (here under his real name Vegard Tveitan) and Heidi’s distinctive voice it is hard to draw a line between this two bands. And I admit, I can not do it – “Iter. Viator.” sounds like, had they not split up, the logical evolution of PECCATUM. Only we have less metal here; few actual drums, but many beats; fewer guitars and more effects and piano. But the mood, the sound, the melodies let you dwell in the spheres of the late PECCATUM once more. And it is soothing to know that while PECCATUM is no more, there is STAR OF ASH to be the worthy heir of their legacy. I mean, SOA is still the collaboration of two gifted and genial musicians that form the Tveitan-family.
Now, what is different about SOA? The best example and my favourite song, “Death Salutes Atropos”, shows that very well. SOA invokes a different kind of heavyness, for heavy it still is – The structures, the drifts are metal to the core without metal instrumentation. I find it hard to name a genre for SOA, mainly because while I am able to recite every sub-genre of Metal by heart, I know shit about genres and styles of the more electronic stuff. But I am able to say that piano, violins (seem like synthetic violins though) and electronic beats (very sophisticated) can sound more like Metal than anything else in the hands of Ihriel. It also helps the feeling that from time to time Ihsahn helps with some guitar-shredding like in “Odie Et Amo”.
And then there is the voice of Heidi – unmistakeable, varied, sovereign, grand. From Banshee to laszive, you have it all, and that through several octaves. Her moods are as diversified as well – from tired to soothing to mad, she entangles the listener with her skill and sheer beauty of it. That is, till she starts screaming at you again. Hell, this woman wails every single one of these wannabe-gothic-elves into the dark abyss where they belong. On every single track on “Iter. Viator” her singing blends in perfectly with the music. And the lyrics are the sheer manifestation of madness – example? “I yearn to vomit my heart all over you” in “The Nudity Of Light”, sung by an enchanting and calm female voice… People, it’s not always nice what a female voice sings. But as for me, I like the twisted lyrics (some reminiscence to the equally mad but brilliant TORI AMOS pops up here)
I always have been a supporter of the idea that Metal and Classic are very close to each other, and fit well together. SOA though does not just mix these two genres but invent a totally new hybrid out of it – something that can stand on its own. So my advice can only be: listen to this, you might regret it if you don’t. Oh and by the way, on “The Nudity Of Light” the man himself, Tricksta G’ (yeah, guess who…?), pays a visit with one of his most magnificent performances, surpassing even his work with ULVER. This is the voice of God himself. If I die, let me listen to him for all eternity, that’d be nice, thanks and fare thee well.
01 – Chasm Blue
02 – Sanies
03 – Beautiful As Torment
04 – Death Salutes Atropos
05 – The Nudity Of Light
06 – Odie Et Amo
07 – In The Throws Of Guilt