Ashes of Chaos – Eye
Ashes of Chaos – Eye (2013)
Reviewed by Mark Nagy
Ashes of Chaos is an Italian progressive metal band that released their début album, Eye, earlier in 2013. Thankfully, it was available on Spotify and came to my attention, and as such, I now bring it to yours. It’s a difficult album to get a read on, because like a lot of progressive metal albums I love, it’s rather eclectic. Eye mixes a few styles of the genre, from Opeth’s darker, more extreme angle, to a more mainstream melodic approach that might remind listeners of Dream Theater, to downright silly themes and piano/keyboard use, which has across-the-board instances from a lot of great, smaller bands.
Predictably, my favorite parts of the album are the more off-beat, eclectic numbers. In particular, “Atmosfear”, which is split into two parts. Yes, I realize “Atmosfear” is a really stupid name, and yes, the almost-too-serious whispering of the song title could totally turn you off if you’re taking yourself or your music too seriously. However, the song highlights some great drumming, as well as a varied and intricate composition on the piano and keyboards. “Pt. II” in particular centers around a twisted carnival inspiration, slowly building into a deranged frenzy. The vocals get higher and higher, but not in the epic power metal sense to put on a great show. No, as the vocals climb in pitch, they just get squeaky. Given everything else going on, the effect is quite humorous.
Even with all the aforementioned chaos, I still find the album’s use of harsher vocals a bit of a mistake in places. I’ve grown a bit to appreciate harsh vocals, but too often the backdrop is still something that feels more for cleaner tones, and the palette just gets a touch too confusing. In general, the vocal performance is just not the most talented. The album benefits from its intricate melodies, and dark, spacey atmosphere. The band is by no means incapable of the more straightforward approach, as the two longer songs, “Parallels” and “Awake” both run in the more traditional style, but like album opener “Ashes of Chaos”, these are both weighed down by less than superb harsh vocals.
Eye is a fun and somewhat nuanced experience that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to friends and fans of the genre. It has some well-executed strengths, and a couple of weaknesses that muddy the water, but I find myself coming back for more all the same. I enjoy the riffs quite a bit, but ultimately, it’s the strong performances on the keys, along with the atmosphere and unique character to the songs that sets it apart in the crowd. Certainly worth a listen, and I’d say a few more after that to get your head wrapped around it.
3.5 // 5