Orphans Of The Ash: Ellipsis – Review and Interview


Credit: Corrie Raven

Members of the Zal Cleminson SAHB and friends music that kiks ass Fan Page on Facebook for several months have had their anticipation built up by posts about visits to the studio of Orphans Of The Ash, describing how brilliant the upcoming album was sounding. Needless to say that by time the album, Ellipsis, was released at the end of November, excitement was in the air. And slightly exacerbated by the Royal Mail strikes holding up the delivery of CDs. When delivery was finally made, it was clear that it was well worth the wait.

Orphans Of The Ash comprise of Zal Cleminson and Billy McGonagle, who previously worked together in Sin Dogs. Ellipsis shows that they have a fruitful and highly creative partnership. The album opens up with acoustic guitar, drawing the listener in, before exploding into heavy rock.

The album that follows is a masterpiece of modern rock, outpacing a lot of the stadium fillers at the ‘top’. It’s quite incredible when considering that only two people were involved in making the album, causing me to have another look over the credits again, which list Zal on vocals, bass and keyboards and Billy on guitars, bass and drum programming. A remarkable achievement, as it sounds like a full band.

Credit: Jim McClean

Each track is a stand-out and I could happily write a novel on each, but we don’t have the space, and we do have an interview with Zal to enjoy below. Personal favourites include ‘Evolution Road’, ‘Psychodrama’, ‘Starship Babyboo’, ‘Baby Strange’, ‘Last Train Home’, ‘Poisonwood’ and ‘So I Die’.

Ellipsis deserves to be one of the classic albums of the 2020s.

Interview With Zal Cleminson

Zal Cleminson (Credit: Grant McClean)

How did Orphans Of The Ash come about?

When Sin Dogs ended, Billy and myself decided to keep on working together. We have a lot in common. There was a bunch of fresh ideas to exploit so we put together a studio in Billy’s house in Glasgow and started recording.

How would you describe the music on the new album?

Glasgow Grunge, Misanthropic Metal, Dystopian Angst, Subconscious Jazz.

What difficulties did the pandemic pose in terms of making the new album?

None in particular. I live in Yorkshire, so there was little we could do except trade ideas online.

Are there any plans to tour live with Orphans Of The Ash, or is it a studio-based project?

At the moment it’s a studio-based project. If there is sufficient demand, we may consider putting together a live band.

Where do you see Orphans Of The Ash going - will there be another album?

We have already started work on the next album. I’m moving back to Glasgow next month, which will help things along.

Generally, how do you think the music industry today compares to how it was back when you started?

 I have no idea what the music business is like today. I take very little interest. Back in the day it was wide-eyed and innocent, ripe for exploitation.

You can also find the album on your streaming service, including Spotify, Amazon Music and Apple Music.