Released: 1999, Independent
Norway's Ashes To Ashes were formed in 1992 by Michael Stenberg, Bjorn Luna and Kristian Johansen. The band recorded a couple of demos and have now released their debut album "Shapes of Spirits."
This CD is perfect for when you are in a sleepy, mellow -but still metal - mood. Songs are melodic and atmospheric with both clean and heavy guitar parts. The first 'real' song on the CD - "Gabriel" includes the addition of a female voice. This is not the most original element, but it gives the music a more dreamy feeling. The style of her voice is not like Nightwish (if you've heard that band) but more like the female vocals on the Sentenced CD "Down." Her vocals, for some reason, were not used elsewhere on the CD. The main vocals are mainly sung in a deep clean voice similar to Moonspell, only not quite as deep or as diverse - there are no black metal screams or death growls. A lot of of the songs on this CD are quite long, allowing for experimentation and exploration into different song structures and sounds. The CD's opener "Shapes of Spirits" had me worried that the CD would be all dreamy without any metal at all. But the second track, "Gabriel", clocking in at just over 11 minutes, is quite different and has a lot of styles - from metal, to classical, to gothic. "Castle in the Air" is more of a metal tune and is faster but lapses into a mellow section with clean guitar - too bad they can't have one song that is full-on aggression! "The Mourning" starts with a piano and this is just crappy and sappy and drags on forever. "Divide & Conquer" begins with a really cool riff backed by an orchestra. This song is more up-tempo than most and sounds kinda progressive. This probably would of been my favorite track on the CD, except for it had no vocals. The other song on the CD that I really liked was "Sacrilege" which again has a lot of different sounds and again is 11 fucking minutes long!!! The last track on the CD sounds like the music from some kinda weird horror film - they must of gotten bored in the studio late one night and decided to write something "scary" and evil sounding.
Fans of the more melodic elements in Moonspell should check these guys out. The band are apparently already working on a new CD which they say will be both heavier and more up-tempo which to me is a good thing. If they can keep their melodic and atmospheric influences, yet wrap it up in a more up-tempo metal sound then I'm sure they'll produce a killer CD. For more information on this band, visit their webpage at http://www.atoa.net