Friday, November 23, 2007

Ashes of Frost, 7 Years Later.


Fall and early winter in New England is the sort of setting in which well-written heavy metal makes the most sense to me. Maybe it's because, then, that I'm back in New Hampshire at this particular time of year that, of all the bands that I've played with in the past, one in particular has been a recurring theme of conversation in the last couple of weeks.

At this time seven years ago, six of us were crammed into the extremely cold and dank basement of a colonial farmhouse on a hill in Candia, New Hampshire. It is apparent now that the music that we were creating there was intrinsically influenced by our surroundings and sensations at the time that, years later, that still proves to be the element that the music skillfully speaks to.

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My first encounter with the band was as a spectator. I was requested by Johnny Scarecrow, the guitarist and band-leader, to attend their first show. Although the band that played that show was very different than what Frost was to become (the band was called merely "Frost" until very near to its demise, when the "Ashes of" was added) I was captivated by the vibe that they created. Within a week, I had been brought on to play guitar for the outfit, at the same time that the band was working on making a couple other post-first-live-experiment changes, like adding synthplayer Nat Ward to the fold. (I'm oversimplifying quite a bit and very knowingly leaving things out; If I were to relate all of the anecdotes of this act and time period that I personally find relevant or entertaining this entry would be a book.)

Within less than a month of Nat and I joining the band, we were working on our first recording, attempting to go it ourselves in that cold basement that, by this point, had adopted the snarky name "The Icy Cavern of Death." What we recorded during that time-period became (originally) a cassette-tape titled "The Virgin Forest is the Devil's Last Preserve..." (a quote from Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible'). That recording undoubtedly has some sonic "issues" (we were dealing with a VERY loud six-piece in a VERY small concrete box; I distinctly remember sitting with Scarecrow by the fireplace upstairs with headphones on, trying to get the mix right, exchanging scared looks and shrugs), but it could be argued it also captures the frigid atmosphere of our songs and our mindsets better (or more succinctly) than our later recordings. The last two songs on the music-player above, "Witchhunt" and "SMDR," are taken from that early cassette (that I have since done a bit of remastering to).

Later in the band's career, a second EP was recorded, in something closer to a "real" recording studio. This record was titled "Mysts of the Iced Morn," and was definitely a more "competent" recording, if not quite as "cold"-sounding as the first (I tend to think recording in the summer was part of that. I think others might lay blame also on the band beginning to decline and lose its focus by this point.) The EP was never officially released, but the first two songs on the player above ("Lullaby" and "Nightmare") are taken from it.


A disc containing both records, in addition to remixes, outtakes, and samples used in our live shows, labeled "The Complete Ashes of Frost," has been sitting on my shelf since shortly after the band's demise, and I still don't quite know what to do with it.

I think I'll post more pictures tomorrow, as while packing my car for the recent drive across the country I found a briefcase stuffed with promotional materials from several of my past bands, much of which I found to be quite hilarious. In the meantime, visit the retrospective Ashes of Frost page on Myspace.

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