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StarOfAsh - "Lakhesis" (CD)

StarOfAsh - "Lakhesis" CD cover image

"Lakhesis" track listing:

1. Panther In the Glove (4:53)
2. Ghosts Holding Hands (4:35)
3. Sunlight Scattered (4:23)
4. The Night Sky (4:33)
5. Nona (6:05)
6. A Thief In the Night (4:25)
7. The Ceryneian Hind (3:22)
8. The Fooling of the Fates (7:23)

Reviewed by on February 25, 2011

"StarofAsh fans will not be disappointed in the project’s third release, and anyone who enjoyed the last album but wanted more metal will be pleasantly surprised with what can be heard on the disc."

The third StarofAsh outing, “Lakhesis,” continues the transformation heard on sophomore album “The Thread” (reviewed here), which was where the former Peccatum vocalist, now turned solo artist, really started to stand on her own and create a unique identity. The evolution of musical direction moves forward in unexpected ways, tossing aside old sounds in favor of new styles. StarofAsh fans will not be disappointed in the project’s third release, and anyone who enjoyed the last album but wanted more metal will be pleasantly surprised with what can be heard on the disc.

“Lakhesis” keeps up the trend of collaborating with a bevy of top notch musicians, bringing back German composer Markus Reuter and also employing Einar Solberg and Tobias Anderse of Leprous for guest vocals. While the lads from Leprous may not be as well known as Ulver’s Garm, who provided the male singing on the previous release, they both do a stellar job adding a vocal component that matches the feel of the music.

The latest StarofAsh release is significantly more “metal” focused than “The Thread,” but at the same time it also drops quite a bit of the distinctive flavor that was heard before. It’s not necessarily better or worse, simply different. “Sunlight Scattered” is essentially the heart of the album, combining the various low key and atmospheric elements with guitar-heavy song construction and the leading lady’s exceedingly wide vocal range.

“Sunlight Scattered” hearkens back towards the Peccatum days, with the front woman using an odd vocal style that is slightly more high pitched and off kilter than would be expected from a female vocalist. It takes more than a single listen through for the song to make its full impact, but when it does it becomes clear that the track is one of the band’s best offerings. The ending segment on “The Night Sky” also goes crazy in the guitar department, bringing to mind some of Ihsahn’s latest solo work, and definitely creating a strong appeal for fans of avant-garde or progressive metal.

Vocals overall make a much bigger impact this time around, occurring much more frequently than on previous releases. There are a lot more standard lyrical constructions here with repeating choruses, which is both good and bad. That particular style works exceedingly well on “Panther in the Glove” and “Ghosts Holding Hands,” but it gets overly repetitive in “A Thief In The Night,” which doesn’t stand up as well on repeated listens.

Even though there was very little in the way of heavy guitars or aggressive music, “The Thread” had a very oppressive and vaguely disturbing atmosphere, while “Lakhesis” is more experimental and guitar driven. It’s fantastic to hear StarofAsh continue to evolve and push musical boundaries in different directions, but at the same time it wouldn’t hurt to have a little more of that creepy atmosphere from “The Thread.” Overall the disc is on par with the band’s first two releases, and the heavier elements make it a winner for metal fans who may have been on the fence about the music.

Highs: Fantastic colloboration with top notch vocalists and composers, lots of avant-garde elements, and overall stunning arrangements.

Lows: The verse/chorus/verse structure doesn't work on all the songs, and some of the flavor from the last album is gone.

Bottom line: StarofAsh shows a heavier, more guitar-driven side, while still including the avantgarde arrangements and clean female vocals.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)