Band: Blood and Sun
Album: Love & Ashes
Genre: American Folk
Country: United States
Release Date: February 28th, 2020
For Fans Of: Panopticon, Chelsea Wolfe, King Dude
I find nothing but unmatched peacefulness and relaxation when I find myself listening to almost any style of folk music, be it the dark neofolk/tribal offerings of Heilung and Wardruna, or the blackened country twist heard in Panopticon’s music, or the traditional Nordic folk as heard in the new Myrkur singles to the progressive rock/jazz fusion Japanese folk amalgam, Osamu Kitajima, and everything in between. Over the past year and a half, I’ve been falling deep down the rabbit hole of anything related to folk in whatever which way. If you had asked me three years ago, I never would’ve imagined myself falling head over heels for this mysterious and entrancing style of music, especially given how long these these styles have been around in each respective culture. Given the opportunity to review the new Blood and Sun record, Love & Ashes, I couldn’t say no to expose myself to more magical folk goodness.
Given that most straight up folk music that I usually listen to is mainly European based, except for Panopticon, Chelsea Wolfe, and King Dude among several others of course, I was eager to hear more traditional American folk music. I want to be clear that I don’t mean country music, as is loved so dearly here in the US. Modern country is nowhere near in quality to what it was before, with the likes of Johnny Cash, and American Folk is even more of a precursor to modern country, sadly it appears to be more and more forgotten. Apart from Johnny Cash and similar dark country artists, I honestly cannot stand country at all. American traditional folk, now that is a different story, as it hasn’t been bastardized by western standards of music as modern country obviously has, despite technically being western music. Modern country makes me feel completely emotionless, as if I have just single-handedly pounded an 18-pack of Coors Lights, whereas Love & Ashes makes me feel as if I am living in wilderness of the Appalachian mountain range; surrounded by nothing but beauty and serenity. Putting on a good set of headphones, having a real beer, and closing my eyes as I lose myself to this music is the equivalent of time traveling. I feel I am going back about several hundred years to a time completely unknown to me, yet the atmosphere captured in the music makes me feel as if this was my life all along, and that these years so distant in the past are much more than just paragraphs in a history textbook; this life is all that I have ever known.
The mysterious and haunting vocals is balanced with the incredibly calming and blissful instrumentation, which is mostly acoustic guitar with a violin accompaniment and very subtle percussion. There is nothing flashy about the music at all, but it is as effective as it can be. Resurrection Charm starts off with a mysterious ritualistic chant, and leads to a sassy passage that makes me feel as if I am in the universe of The Witcher, enjoying myself in a tavern as I observe a bard work his magic with his lute; Jaskier, is that you? I will say that the vocal melody of this track is pleasant and somewhat unpleasant at the same time. The flow seems a little interrupted at times but is still quite memorable. The vocals are sassy and broody at the same time and are quite reminiscent TJ Cowgill from King Dude. The bombastic instrumentation easily distracts from that little misstep in the vocal flow in this specific track. By What Road is without a doubt, the highlight on this record. The slow build consisting of the fingerstyle guitar, eerie violin, and the chilling cymbal crashes, to the explosion at the end with the abusive strumming of the multiple acoustic guitars. It is a shame that this track ends so abruptly, but otherwise its outro was an incredible release of tension. I absolutely adore crescendos as heard in this track, as that explains my love for post-metal.
Madrone is much more upbeat and reminiscent of a pure folk Panopticon track with the fast paced strumming of the acoustic guitar and violin harmony accompaniment. The addition of the violin throughout this record adds another layer of infectious melody that adds multitudes to the atmosphere of this record. As much as I don’t want to admit it, this record wouldn’t be as great as it is without the violin. There are so many flavors in this record that really take me on a journey through American folk music and I couldn’t ever get with modern country. With the addition of sounds of rainfall as well as the roar of a train engine, this record brings you down to earth to a place you’ve never been before, yet you have this feeling of familiarity. This constant feeling that I am in an entirely different place at an entirely different period of time is a true testament to how engaging this record truly is. It grabs hold of you and does not let go until the last note fades away.
Love & Ashes is a record that takes me to places and times unknown. Blood and Sun is a record made for the wanderer, exploring the vast expanse of undisturbed nature (well, back then at least…). I couldn’t help but become completely mystified by the uncanny atmosphere that was as intriguing and absolutely divine as it was haunting. This record only further cements my appreciation for folk music as a whole, be it American, European, Latin, Middle Eastern, or Asian. There is plenty of music out there that these soundscapes that modern music can’t reach, and I aim to listen to as much as I possibly can. I cannot recommend this record enough.
- Resurrection Charm
- Stone Wrote in Stone
- Dusk Century
- This Hate in Me Will Pass
- By What Road
- The Wanderer’s Road
- Love and Ashes
- Until the Dawn
Total Playing Time: 41:52