Monday 10 June 2024

Scattered Ashes - All That Is Solid Melts Into Air EP

Recorded in December 2023 at the iconic Darklands Audio studio in Dublin, Scattered Ashes deliver a near perfect EP in All That Is Solid Melts Into Air. The Dan Doherty produced recording showcases the Dublin/Mayo (London based) quartet for what they are and their darker more sinister approach sets them apart from many of their contemporaries. Like many of the bands that release on Galway based Blowtorch Records they are a band of distinction with a bright future ahead of them despite the dark undertones prevalent in many of their songs.

Robert Dalton’s distinctive and brooding yet menacing vocals in unison with the wizardry of Ben Downes on lead guitar give the band that urgent and abrasive feel. The rhythmic heartbeat of the band comes from brothers Cillian Sheil on drums and Gerry Sheil on bass. That brotherly connection means they never miss a beat or chord. It’s evident that the strength and harmony within comes from the bond the quartet have built over time on the road, in the studio and outside of work. Personable and unassuming both in and out of the studio the lads have all the ingredients to flourish and continually evolve.

They Can’t Divide Us opens proceedings with propulsive drumbeats from the driving force of Cillian Sheil accompanied by deep stirring vocals from Robert Dalton that evoke memories of Ian Curtis. A trembling bassline and spiky guitars contort the song into a cacophony of kaleidoscopic noise. A rousing song, politically and emotionally, which is one of many anthems in their armour already. 

Such urgency remains constant throughout the EP with second track Ether raising the bar another level. The band describe the tune as being “a meditation on paranoia, psychosis and being haunted by the past”. Ben Downes leads the way on guitar scratching at the surface as he prompts, probes and delves into places that irritate you to find the answers you’re looking for.

While a brooding Dalton tells us to ‘Hold it back to give it away’ it’s not long before he’s declaring to ‘Set this place alight’.

Repetitive strains of ‘Ether’ in the refrain from bass player/backing vocalist Gerry Shiel add extra potency to a killer song and the claustrophobic feeling intensifies.

Kingdom covers the sacred ground of that grave “sense of loss as a result of the end of an intense physical relationship” yet it also turns on its head by exploring “the possibility of rebirth in its aftermath” say the band.

Dalton declares “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, is this the makings of heaven, a moment of trust.”

Again the sorcery of Ben Downes on lead guitar intertwines with Gerry’s heart beating melodic bass. The signature heavy chorus effect engulfs and consumes the listener to the point of no return.

Love Is Not An Option delves into the sinister aspects of an ailing relationship. While we’ve heard this song in a different format previously the band have re-recorded it with dramatic results. From Goth to Post Punk the quartet are willing to experiment with their sound and this bodes well for any future recordings

Out of the darkness comes a lust for life. Agitated, intoxicated and exasperated Dalton whoops and yelps in manic style as Cillian tries to hold it all together. Bass, beefier than before, and lead, refuse to let up in a battle of heart and mind and the fresher, cleaner sound enhances the song clearly highlighting a band who put heart and soul into their profession. Lost in isolation they are not.

The intimate catharsis of I Will Be King might just be the band’s finest work to date. There are rhythmic tonal shifts against a backdrop of jarring and dissonant guitars that create a huge sound without ever becoming to over the top. This could be the song that gives them extra confidence to make that giant leap of faith and get to the next level and win many more admirers along the way.

Mid song there’s an explosion of driving drums from Cillian with sibling Gerry taking more prominent backing vocals before Rob and Ben wrestle back the song before it comes to a crashing climax.

From emotional disconnection and faded glory Dalton states ‘you might think there’s nothing of me now…..a silver lining just declining’ before the epic sweep complete with self-redemption and defiance and the declaration ‘I Will Be King Again’.

All That Is Solid Melts Into Air is already shaping up to be one of the records of the year. There are definite nods to several great bands that have influenced Scattered Ashes during this recording process but here lies the secret as to why we have an exciting new band on the block - they still sound fresh and new despite absorbing great music that spans everything from the late 1970s to the present day. That’s a special trait that so few bands can master.

Scattered Ashes are on Facebook and Twitter.  The EP can be ordered on vinyl here.


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