Ascension – Far Beyond The Stars

April 3, 2012 in Reviews by blackwindmetal

Far Beyond the Stars

Scottish band Ascension is one that has really managed to make a splash in their respective scene before even releasing a full–length album. Well, pretty much all of the hype is not only deserved, but downright necessary. Far Beyond The Stars is one of the strongest power metal debuts I have ever heard, and I can only imagine this band getting better from here.

Stylistically, this band delivers a fast paced, high flying version of guitar-based power metal. Keys are very few and far between and tend only to fill in various musical gaps perfectly. There are no shortages of guitar solos, that’s for sure, each song has at least one. Fraser Edwards and Stuart Docherty are fantastic players, so each and every solo is entertaining and musically moving. Probably the most obvious feature of this band are the vocals, provided by Richard Carnie. On the lead single, “Somewhere Back In Time” he exhibits a high pitched vocal style that exudes energy and power, whereas on “The Silver Tide” he uses a more mid-range relaxed style that displays equal emotion while being presented in a totally different way. Drums are very well performed at the hands (and feet) of Dick Gilchrist. Double kick isn’t abused, and in “The Silver Tide”, he manages to take a unique look at playing in a ballad.

The production for this album, overseen by the legendary Andy LaRocque, (King Diamond, Death) is clean and crisp, with everything coming out very clear. The drums are heavy and powerful, without taking away from the guitars. The guitar tone is very pleasing to the ear, especially the solo tones, being clean enough to be comprehended, and yet distorted enough to provide a metric ton of power. Carnie comes through clean as a whistle, taking center stage with ease. Bass is mostly inaudible (this is power metal after all) although during the instrumental “Orb Of The Moons” there is a section where you can hear the bass (editor’s note: Don’t forget the solo in “Somewhere Back In Time!”).

Each and every song on this album is different from the next, and this variety prevents it from becoming a bore. Standouts include the opener “Somewhere Back In Time”, the ballad “The Silver Tide”, my personal favourite song, “Heavenly”, and the closer, “The Avatar”. “Heavenly”in particular features a chorus that rivals those written by the great power metal composers of the last thirty years or so. The ordering of the songs on this album was brilliant, and the nearly ten minute epic, “The Avatar”, makes for an excellent closer.

This is a mind blowing album, and all fans of power metal (or even metal in general) should pick it up as soon as you can, you will never regret it. I eagerly await the next album from this band, to see how they’ve grown as musicians and songwriters.

Nick’s rating 4.25 out of 5