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Unto Ashes – “The Blood of My Lady” Review

Unto Ashes’ 5th album The Blood of My Lady see’s the ever changing band continue down their ancient folksy apocalyptic music that they do so well. “The Blood of My Lady Pt 1” is an acoustic guitar/vocal opener that is quite simplistic, as most of Unto Ashes’ songs are. The opener is quite emotional and wistful with Laird’s male vocal sounding as soft and fabled as ever. It sets the tone well for the rest of the album.

“Who Has Seen the Wind?” sounds very 1970’s psychadelic folk with its free flowing folk guitar and Celtic medieval undertones while a chorus of hushed low key vocals morbidly march on like a funeral train. It’s a great track full of little twists and turns. “Echos in Den Wald” is more Celtic tribal crossed with a sea shanty! The uptempo percussion and various wind instruments make you feel like you’re about to go into a Scottish dance, while the vocals sound like they’ve come from a derranged Disney “everyone works together” musical number (every Disney film has one) that’s gone a bit demonic. The result is something really quite original and takes a few listens to truely appreciate! That seemlessly leads into “The Tomb of Your Remains” which is a heartfelt string instrumental.

“Vengenace” is an acoustic guitar led jaunt with various little embellishments and some great vocal harmonisations. It’s with campfire type songs like this Unto Ashes really shine as they all work so well in pitch together with husky male and siren like female vocals colliding over various acoustic instruments. “I Will Lead You Down” takes a much more sinister tone with strained strings stirring behind the guitars and vocals. What sets Unto Ashes apart from most folk groups is that they really go down the darker depths of neo-folk compared to most other groups, almost verging on gothic folk. The glass sounds in this song gives it a real etheral edge too.

“Our Palace of Ice” is a short ambient keyboard piece that leads into the second half of the album which kicks off with “A Cold Winter (February)” which is like listening to an audio book. As a poem is spoken in relative monotone (although the speech speed varies for emphasis) a simple but effective guitar loop flows underneath. It actually works very well and doesn’t come across pretentious in the least. When the words stop, the rain starts and its a nice touch. “For All My Broken Promises” once again see’s Laird take control of the vocals and music with a beautiful track. With two acoustic gutiars, strings and keyboards all working to weave a complex structure, it’s one of my favourites from the album.

“The River and the Hawk” mixes some brass into the musical palette as the verses are sung and chorus spoken. This trakc comes across like someone is reading from an ancient text. “Fly on the Windscreen” is more uptempo but also gave me a giggle the first time I listened to the song. “Death is everywhere, fly’s are on windscreen” as the opening lyric just set me off. However it did very quickly become my favourite song from the album. It has a good progression and passion behind it and is one of the few songs on the album that isn’t a complete lament as it has a get up and go. “The Blood of My Lady Part 2” is another more sombre guitar led track before the final “She is Everywhere and Nowhere” rounds off the album with piano piece that is both foreboding and broken at the same time.

Unto Ashes’ albums are usually quite a varied concoction and this latest album is actually the least diverse of them and because of that it’s almost better to listen to it as a whole as it evokes a general feeling rather than having stand-out single style tracks. It’s much less immediate than their previous works and more introspective. Give it time, and The Blood of My Lady will taste like a good fine wine.

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