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ASHES OF ARES Ashes OF Ares

By Jay Roberts, Massachusetts Contributor
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 7:02 PM


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ASHES OF ARES
Ashes Of Ares

Nuclear Blast Records - 2013
http://www.ashesofares.com/






The debut album from the new metal band ASHES OF ARES features powerhouse vocalist Matt Barlow and bassist/guitarist Freddie Vidales (both ex-members of ICED EARTH) joining forces with NEVERMORE drummer Van Williams to unleash their new molten slab of traditional but not unfashionable metal.

It's hard to imagine any metal fan not recognizing Barlow's voice immediately. For me, his membership in the group was the immediate selling point. I love how he can alternate his vocal style between a clean delivery and a powerful growl and yet still make both work.

The album opens with a spare vocal in "The Messenger" before it blasts off. A semi-recurring theme begins in this song where the pacing of the song makes you feel like you are on a horse galloping across the open country. In this song, it is particularly meaningful because that theme actually ties into some of the lyrics. It is most noticeable in "Punishment", where the opening lyrics are nearly inaudible. The song is a big rocker and features a guitar solo from ex-NEVERMORE guitarist Jeff Loomis.

Beginning with the track "This Is My Hell" (which is the first song being pushed from the CD) things really pick up overall. I'd say this serves as the signature song for the band. The band made a video for the track which you can check out right HERE.

In the early portion of the album, there was a slight problem where the vocals seemed to be getting drowned out by the music. While it didn't affect the songs completely, it is noticeable when you are trying to dig out what is being sung from the instruments.

"Dead Man's Plight" has an odd stylistic change about 2 1/2 minutes into the song and the guitar work during that change brings a reprise of the galloping feel to the music.

A couple of the songs feature titles that would make great horror or fantasy novel titles. The first is "Chalice of Man". The song has a very aggressive opening but is a bit less so over the course of the song. Decent work regardless.

The other track is "The One-Eyed King". I loved the opening riffage and the full length aggressive tone. The track fits together seamlessly. You get the same feeling from "What I Am" as well.

The tempo of "The Answer" is that of a power ballad variety but in a wonderfully contrarian fashion, the songs has a far more heavy and intense vibe to it. An acoustic version of the song is included as a bonus track.

New metal bands pop up like weeds and they come and go making nary a ripple on the metal pond. You have to have a truly solid pedigree to stand tall after the initial flash of publicity because of your past musical endeavors. ASHES OF ARES fulfills that mini check list.

The music does at times overpower some of the vocal performances but it is solid throughout. And the Barlow vocals show once again why he has always been the best singer ICED EARTH ever had. But while he will always carry that mantle with him, he is not remotely resting on his laurels and fashions himself in such a way to still make powerful vocals that may be reminiscent of his past days but has only the road ahead on his mind.

This is a good start and it certainly deserves kudos for being representative of what one might call "true" heavy metal.

*** 1/2 Out Of 5


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