Star Of Ash - The Thread
Electronica, Ambient, Experimental
10 songs (41:57)
Release year: 2008
Star Of Ash, Candlelight
Reviewed by Goat

As the life partner of a figure who is arguably at the centre of extreme metal today - former Emperor and Peccatum frontman Ihsahn – Ihriel, or Heidi Tveitan to call her by her real name, has her work cut out when it comes to gaining recognition for her own output. Her first album as Star Of Ash, 2002’s Iter.Viator., was a masterpiece of experimental Electronica, the Neoclassical influences mixing with Heidi’s gorgeous voice to give it an understated beauty that is even more apparent with time.

Of course, Star Of Ash is anything but background music, and new album The Thread drives this point to the hilt by making you sit through two tracks before Heidi even opens her mouth, the calm intro of How To Invent A Heart, and Him And Her’s bass noodling and backing male choirs. Here at least, the more typical Metallic instrumentation like guitars and bass are higher in the sound than on the previous album, which relied much more on keyboards and electronics. When Heidi actually starts singing on The World Spins For You, any doubts are gone as the elements all come together for a perfect moment. Alas, these moments are relatively few, which makes The Thead a difficult listen.

Where Iter.Viator. was relatively straightforward and heartfelt, and the tracks were recognisable as songs, The Thread takes much more of a complex path. Rather than repeat the constant flow of the debut, there’s much more variety here, the album never taking the easy path and allowing Heidi’s voice to shine through. Instead, the electronics take the foreground for the majority of the album, which is frustrating for the first few listens especially if you’ve heard the debut and want more of the same. Thus, the moment on Blood, Bones And A Skull where Ulver frontman Kristoffer Rygg makes an appearance is naturally one of the highlights, as it’s a break from the general sensory overload.

Other highlights are the Folky Crossing Over, which features Kristoffer Rygg again, and the bonus track Neo Drugismo, a collaboration with Japanese cyber-Punk writer Kenji Siratori. Note that both these tracks heavily feature guest vocals, which may well be a shallow move on my part, looking for something to cling to. The Thread is the sort of album where only repeated listens will make any real sense of it, and there are just enough hints of genius each time to keep you listening. It is worth mentioning, as well, that all the percussion and drumming on the album seems to be acoustic rather than programmed, which certainly gives this a higher artistic status.

Obviously this will only appeal to a certain type of listener, but if the word ‘electronica’ doesn’t make you run screaming and you have the time and patience to put in, The Thread - despite having less appeal than its predecessor which I’d recommend to anyone - is a glimpse into the mind of a musical genius.

Killing Songs :
The Snake Pit, Crossing Over, Neo Drugismo
Goat quoted 73 / 100
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