Ashes of Ares – Ashes of Ares (Album Review)

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Ashes of Ares – Ashes of Ares (Album Review)

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When Matt Barlow (vocals) & Freddie Vidales (Guitar) left Iced Earth in 2012, they soon found themselves uniting with Van Williams (Drums) who had recently left Nevermore. With this collaboration a new band named Ashes to Ares was born. For live shows the trio are joined by Dean Sternberg on Bass (ex-Into Eternity) and Charlie Honig on guitar. Signed to Nuclear Blast they released their self-titled Jim Morris produced debut album in 2013, toured in early 2014, and in fact are already brainstorming a follow up album.

To begin “The Messenger” is atmospheric, with a huge build up to a fierce and brutal song, the double kick on the drum of Williams is vicious while “Move the Chains” is equally pitiless and Barlow’s vocals display a range that would make most opera stars jealous going from deep growls to high-pitched screams.  The song “On Warrior’s Wings” is undercut with beautiful guitar work provided by Vidales giving way to demonic drumming.  This is followed by the track “Punishment” featuring a guest guitar solo by Nevermore’s Jeff Loomis.  The track is forceful and possibly alludes to Barlow’s own response to 9/11 which resulted in him quitting Iced Earth to become a Police Officer for a time. “This is My Hell” is no less intense, with impassioned choruses and “Dead Man’s Plight” is filled with light & dark, but the speed that “Chalice of Man” erupts with is awe-inspiring and frightening at the same time compliments of a guitar solo by Gio Geraca of Malevolent Creation. In contrast “The Answer” is less angry and a welcome relief from the onslaught, while still metal this song has a rock heart with beautiful keys provided by Kris Rodgers. Intensifying the anguish once more “What I Am” has aggressive guitars and savage drums, showing this debut record is not a pretty album, it is macho and brave. “The One-Eyed King” is shrill at times, but has the typical storytelling style that characterizes this genre. The final track on this album is a repeat called “The Answer”, only this time an acoustic version fully revealing the inner rock heart and ending the album on a much calmer note.

As a first album this is unpolished and raw and to some listeners may lack the finesse that Iced Earth had. That said, it has a drive that will leave the listener feeling battered and bruised at the end, Barlow is a man who believes strongly in what he does, and this is no doubt a preview of something special to come with their follow up album.  CrypticRock give Ashes of Ares 4 out of 5 stars.

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Nuclear Blast

 

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Lisa Nash
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Lisa has been involved in the music business since 1992, from agent to manager, promoter to festival organizer, her passion for music and her wealth of knowledge has led to her being a well respected professional on the English music scene. Her writing career began as a favor for Midlands Rocks, and she has reviewed both recorded and live music over the years, as well as interviewing bands such as Seether and Three Doors Down. These days, she mainly focuses on being involved in the running of a number of music festivals and also helping 1000's of musicians through a forum designed to give advice and warn people about known music scams. Preferring Rock and Metal, her taste also varies to Opera, Country, and Classical. Lisa is very supportive of the unsigned, independent bands and strongly believes that the talent is out there in the live scene and not to be found on Saturday Night TV.

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