A Ghost to be Forgotten is finally released. I won't go in on how I waited for this album for years. I will just say that I am glad that itís finally out, and give Henryk Vogel and his HeidenVolk label my regards. I think this is the first non-Darkwood album on HeidenVolk and hopefully it marks a new era in the label's history; my hopes are that Vogel will continue to release other artist's works, because he obviously has an ear for quality.
Four years of writing, recording and producing... What made In Ruin's last release Seeds of the Past a classic for me was its simplicity and 'minimal' sound. Needless to say, I had high expectations of this album, but also worries about that it might be over-produced after all this time. Now, with the album in hand and the songs in ear, I can gladly say that those worries were, or are, unanswered. But what made Seeds of the Past a classic is gone, leaving place for other qualities that includes a much richer sound. But itís not only time and progress that sculptured the new sound; In Ruin is now a duo and no longer the project of Terry Collia alone. Alex Hathaway is the name of the new member, and bass, electric guitar, flute and piano are his roles. There are also noble guest appearances from Kim Larsen from :Of The Wand And the Moon: (backing vocals, some guitar work), earlier mentioned Henryk Vogel (spoken word, bass and little percussion) and Isaac Aubrey (backing vocals) to mention some of the big names. More anonymous are Nadja Ė cello, and Valentin Ė violin.
I will try to do this 'explain every song in short'-review on this album and begin with "Frustration". After an intro of ambience, Terry plucks his acoustic guitar and the sound does somehow remind me of something from Seeds of the Past but more 'poppy' (I donít like to use the word 'pop' to this kind of music but it seems as it is an accepted term). "Frustration" is a good title. Both the lyrics and the vocals have a frustrated feeling.
The next two songs are more traditional neofolk, pretty much in the vein of :OTWATM:ís Sonnenheim and these two songs are also true highlights. "Fragmented Hearts" is slow, with a traditional folk melody on bass and electric guitars. Henryk Vogel contributes with some spoken word and the background is full of interesting ambient. "Cold Comfort" is a standout with a very unpredictable bass-line, almost funky, and soothing guitar solos.
"I still Wonder" is a rearranged version of "I Wonder" from Seeds of the Past. It doesn't differ that much, though. It was a nice neofolk song back then and still is. "Hope and Pain" seems boring to begin with but awakes in the refrain. Reminds of the mellow side of Anathema, or Antimatter. The same can be said about "Refuge of Lies" Ė slow start, great ending, even though it sounds pretty different. The ninth track is untitled and does not have any vocals, but is a nice dark folk and ambient piece nonetheless. The title track that comes next is rather unremarkable though. It could as well be an interlude on some goth-rock album. And itís a shame that the vocals are bareley hearable.
To finish it off, In Ruin has recorded their version of "Followe Thy Faire Sun Unhappy Shaddowe" together with Kim Larsen, who first made this traditional song familiar in neofolk circles on his Lucifer album. If the second and the third tracks are highlights, then this one has to be THE highlight. I love the cello and the drums, combined with the beautiful melody and Terryís whispered vocals.
All this is nicely bound together in a stunningly designed digipack.
So, was it worth four years of waiting? Yes. Did you like the previous release? Buy this one as well! Are you looking for fresh and really good neofolk but are not afraid of experiments? A Ghost to be Forgotten is for you.