In the neofolk musical movement, this project shows some unique qualities that make it different from most of the other bands and artists commonly associated with this genre. In fact, most of the neofolk outfits hail from Europe, while Blood and Sun hails from America. This is not to be meant only as a geographical alteration, because the style and themes confronted by European bands are deeply related with the old continental roots: ancient pagan religions (mostly related to the Norse pantheon) and in general historical, philosophical and mystic themes connected to Europe’s millenarian history and culture.
In Love & Ashes by Blood and Sun, released in 2020, we find the archetypal medieval mood of neofolk blended with the dark-country songwriting specifically born and raised in the United States with artists like Johnny Cash and Townes Van Zandt. This can be particularly heard in “This Hate In Me Will Pass”, an obscure ballad based on a simple but moving guitar arpeggio enriched by the strings in the later section of the tune, which creates a fitting sonic background for singer Luke Tromiczak’s warm baritone timbre.
“By What Road” is a hypnotic mystic ballad that takes the listener on a strange trip of over eight minutes, through ancient forests and forgotten dawns, in a love story that’s lived through the past of the American country and that’s recalled in an honest and inspired way. Thus contributing to create a storytelling that’s not rhetorical as much as it’s melancholic:
But hell, I remember from years before
The same snow on different streets
As we gathered our things to leave
Drops of blood on the snow left by me
Sinking beneath fir trees.
“Resurrection Charm” and “Love and Ashes” instead present a most conventional songwriting for the genre, with eccentric medieval harmonies and instruments and tribal martial drums to support the momentum and the pathos of the tunes. The latter present lyrically a direct reference to Odin, the prominent Norse god, and one of the most important religious and mythological figures addressed by the genre and the core concept of the record:
On the day of sun and ashes, I was marked by Oðin’s knot
And when he asked, What are those signs?
Stranger, you know who I am
On this day of love and ashes
We dine with each other’s hearts in hand.
You can find the album Love & Ashes on Spotify.
Below, the “Love & Ashes” music video on YouTube.