Ashent – Inheritance
The middle part of 2012 has been very strong for progressive metal, with a number of albums stealing my attention for a long period of time. Because of this, every new release I hear needs to impress me within two listens, or else it will be very hard to convince me to care enough to keep trying until I like it. The latest album to face this challenge is Inheritance, the third release from Italian proggers Ashent. Do they have what it takes to stack up against the competition? I think they do, as they certainly have a lot of potential, but as far as this release is concerned, they still have a bit of room to grow.
Technically, the music is quite superb, as keyboardist Gilles Boscolo has turned in an excellent performance. His keys are oftentimes the driving force behind the songs, creating a thick atmosphere throughout while giving room for the rest of the band to shine. He is less flashy and more subtle, which I prefer. Equally impressive are the two guitarists Onofrio Falanga and Alessandro Cossu, who are as good during the more mellow sections as they are when going full force with their impressive solos.
On vocals we have the newest addition to the band, Titta Tani, who does an admirable job. The only bad vocal spots are the rare occasions when the harsh vocals come in, but apparently these are handled by the bassist Gianpaolo Falanga. Titta’s performance is quite varied, and he does a good job of fitting the tone of each song.
Which brings me to the songs themselves. As you might guess by everything I’ve said so far, the songwriting would have to be the weakest element of the album, right? Well, that is true, but to the band’s credit, roughly half of the songs are very good. Opening track “Eve” begins with an ominous keyboard track before evolving into something that would fit in just fine on a Devin Townsend album (well, one of his more metal-oriented ones, anyway). Indeed, the entire song has a bizarre feel to it, though it quickly turns into one of the heavier tracks on the album, and is one of my favorites. Next is “Magnificence Of A Daydream”, where the keyboards give the song a dreamy sound at the times, which instantly drew me in. These first two songs show what the band is capable of. That is, being a very modern sounding prog band with the occasional use of punchy riffs, but for the most part they are very melodic and very atmospheric, with quite a few solo sections, though these usually feel like a natural part of the song and never turn into “wankery”.
The first sign of trouble comes with the third song, “Shipwrecked Affair”, and while it’s not nearly as disastrous as its name would imply, it feels unfocused, with a great chorus sandwiched in between parts that just don’t go together very well. “Spider’s Nest” is a bit similar in that regard, but for the most part the songs are fairly well-written. Some may become bored with the balladry which first appears on “Fractural”, a song that really showcases the lighter side of Titta Tani’s voice, and is another one of my personal favorites. The problem is, after the aforementioned “Spider’s Nest”, there are three consecutive songs that feel much too similar to either of those two songs, and while they are all decent enough on their own, they blend together in a way that causes me to become a bit bored after a while. And that is why the songwriting is my biggest complaint about the album: aside from those five songs, the album is a winner.
Thankfully, the album ends as nicely as it begins, with the almost entirely instrumental “ La Danzatrice Scalza” being another showcase of the band’s talent. “The Defiant Boundary” may perhaps be the best song of the bunch, and the closing track “Labyrinthique” is a non-metal instrumental piece. Overall, aside from some slight inconsistencies with the songwriting, Inheritance is a solid melodic progressive metal album, with a fairly unique sound to it and some truly excellent guitar and keyboard work, along with strong vocals. Recommended for fans of the genre.
Travis Green’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5