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Music Review: “Grave Blessings” by Unto Ashes

October 12, 2009
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Grave Blessings
Unto Ashes
2005, Projekt
9 out of 10

I’ll admit that I haven’t heard anything else by Unto Ashes. This album blew me away, though. I picked it up a couple of years ago at a used record store, primarily for the cover art which looks very “old-world witch”, and aesthetic that’s always done it for me. When it got in the care and popped it in, I was very pleasantly surprised! This is an album that I ought to have payed full price for.

Morose without being lugubrious, dark without being sinister, this album is everything I look for in goth music. For me, the best goth is ethereal, dreamlike, yet somehow hyper-real. It should take me somewhere, or else plant me so firmly where I am that I feel there is no escape.

With a combination of folk, “world music” and electronic elements, Unto Ashes really follow through. “Winter Born” is a simple and melodic evocation of a Pagan celebration in a stark white snowscape, while “Tortured by Rose Thorns” is a delicious, gurgling exclamation of raw and bleeding pain. Track 8, “The Drowning Man”, provides a beautiful anthem for desperation. “Four Loom Weaver” is the band’s gothic take on an old Irish folk song of crushing poverty, and “Way of the World” is a desolate, straight-faced proclamation of the reality of death, pure and simple.

These are not all of the tracks, but a rough sampling of very different songs cutting a swathe through the style of Unto Ashes. For those who like a bit of darkness in their folk music, and who don’t mind flavorful use of electronic elements, Grave Blessings is a wonderful album for the dark half of the year.

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