Interview with ASH of SICKLE OF DUST

Sickle of Dust is an atmospheric black metal project from Moscow founded by guitarist and composer Ash, who earlier this month put out a debut release titled “Between the Worlds.” Although Sickle of Dust is a newcomer on the huge black metal scene, Ash himself has been into music for over 20 years as part of the neofolk group Neutral.

In a new interview, Ash tells us about the record, challenges of bringing it into the life, his look on the black metal scene today, and more.

Hey Ash. How are you doing?

Hi, I’m fine, thanks! Hope you’re ok as well!

You have just released your debut album “Between the Worlds.” How do you feel about the release?

I feel satisfied. Being a metal fan for my entire life, releasing a metal album after playing pure acoustic music for many years, is a real thing for me.

How much of a challenge was to work on the album?

It took me about a year and a half to complete the album. Actually everything went smoothly music-wise, but the main challenge was to write lyrics. As English is not my native language it is always a challenge to write lyrics which you won’t be ashamed of in future. Of course, I have some experience in doing so in my main project, but it’s always a big time-consuming task for me.

Between the Worlds

What other artists similar to your genre that are coming from Russia are you friends with?

As soon as this is my very first experience in the genre there are no any other bands I know personally, I’m a new guy here, you know.

What is your opinion about the current black metal scene?

I think it’s ok. To my mind it’s one of the most rapidly developing metal genres. With all these post-, gaze-, atmospheric-, ambient- and other sub-genres it has become really interesting realm to explore nowadays. I also think that BM is one of the genres where you are not really limited in your musical expression by the strict framework, so to say, and this fantastic mixture of different musical elements with trademark “BM-style” vocals allows one to create something new and appealing to many different kinds of fans. In other words, you can find almost anything in it. As for more traditional BM — it depends on what one is looking for, but there are many interesting new bands and well as really cool stuff from the veterans.

Can you tell me something about your influences?

Well it’s quite a huge range. Speaking about Sickle of Dust there not many BM influences there, except maybe for some stuff like Immortal, Leviathan, Xasthur and some other. There are some things from acoustic romantic neofolk music I’ve been doing for many years, it’s obvious, you can’t get away from that after 20+ years in the genre. But the main influences here are Dead Can Dance, movie scores, Celtic folk, some old Soviet-era Russian pop music (which was not actually “pop” at all in modern terms) and, of course, Motorhead. There is always Lemmy, you can’t deny that.

What are you listening to these days?

I have just discovered an Icelandic band called Skáphe recently. And this one is absolutely mind crushing! Also some black metal, stoner rock, a couple of Antimatter albums, The Jezabels, my all-time favourites Voivod and.. well, Motorhead, yes! :)

Your 5 favourite records of all the time?

  1. Voivod “Killing Technology”/ “Dimension Hatröss”
  2. Om “Advaitic Songs”
  3. G.G.F.H. “Disease”
  4. Dire Straits “On Every Street”
  5. Dead Can Dance “Within the Realm of Dying Sun” + almost any Motorhead record.

Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record “Between the Worlds”?

My core element was Axe FX II XL set on clean (with internal delays and reverb) + a couple of 4×12 cab IRs and some overdrive pedals in front, like EQD Dunes and JRockett Archer Icon altogether. I have a couple of real amps and cabs at my place, but to avoid endless “mike-dancing” I prefer modelling+pedals combination for the recording. All synth parts were made on my old Yamaha Motif ES rack + some software like East/West Orchestra  Gold etc. All drums were Toontrack Superior Drummer 2. As for guitars – it’s mostly Charvel Desolation DS-3 FR, old ESP Mirage and Gibson SG 1961 re-issue. I think there was a 2009 PRS Standard 22 used on a couple of songs as well. Music Man Sterling Stealth and 1996 Warwick Fortress Masterman, overdriven, for the bass parts. So, as you can see, it’s a pretty typical bedroom setup.

Besides the release of the album, are there any other plans for the future?

I would really like a physical release of the album, vinyl especially, so the priority is to have a deal with the label. I’m already in the final stage of negotiation with one of the labels which made me a good offer for the release, so hopefully it could be done next year. And then – possibly another album for I have some songs left with some new ones in mind.

Any words for the potential new fans?

I really appreciate your support, hope “Between the Worlds” won’t be a disappointment! Thanks a lot!

“Between the Worlds” is available from Bandcamp here.