Divine Ascension – As The Truth Appears
In my last review I mentioned the elite names in female fronted symphonic metal and talked about a band who’s consistently been moving closer to reaching that point. Well, this time I’m covering a band making their debut who are already further along that path, and only have one major obstacle to overcome in order to prove themselves. Divine Ascension is a new Australian group that has delivered one of the strongest debuts in the year with As the Truth Appears, an extremely pleasant and easy-listening album I could hear all day and not get bored with. That’s not to say it isn’t metal, because it certainly is, but it’s definitely on the melodic side.
I usually don’t care too much about album artwork, because at the end of the day as long as album is good, should I really care if the cover is kinda ugly? But in this case, the artwork is actually a really nice fit. You see, the image of a kid making a sandcastle in front of a beach is not terribly original, but at the same time it is very nice, and makes you think of times when you just want to relax and enjoy yourself for a bit. That’s exactly how the album feels as well, as it mostly takes elements of bands we already know. It doesn’t score any points for originality, but everything is executed extremely well. At least for myself, listening to the album is a very nice and relaxing experience where I can easily get lost in the music and just be at peace. So basically, the band does what any melodic metal band is trying to do.
The opening track “Answers” would not at all seem out of place on a Visions of Atlantis album, as it’s the type of cheesy Symphonic Metal with epic arrangements that we’ve come to expect from them. It even features the same style of dual vocals, while most of the rest of this album does not. There is one big difference though: The male singer here would slaughter Mario Plank in any singing competition- at least if I was judging it. He actually has a similar style, but I find his voice much more pleasant. Instead of getting in the way of the sound, I find that he enhances it. But the real star here is lead vocalist Jennifer Borg, who has a clean style and is both very pleasant and powerful at the same time. She also sings with quite a bit of emotion, which especially enhances the amazing power ballad “Another Battlefield” and the closing ballad “Not Today”. Other highlights include the aforementioned opening track, “Garden of Evil”, the speedy progressive power metal song “In My Mind”, and “Unscathed”
While the overall sound is very melodic, there are some heavy sections scattered throughout, and most of the songs feature some offbeat progressive metal sections. These don’t usually take up much of the song, and the choruses are almost all irresistibly catchy. The song structures are generally quite simple, but the band shows some strong technical proficiency at points, like in the excellent guitar/keyboard solo on “Guided by Osiris”. Perhaps my only advice to the band going ahead would be to do a little bit more of this, and add in a few more progressive elements just to break away from the pack a little bit.
There is nothing overly original here, but for a debut everything from the songwriting to the vocals is exceptional. While the band won’t attract new fans to their genre, I can wholeheartedly recommend this amazing album to anyone looking for a new female fronted symphonic metal band to check out, as this is one of the better releases I’ve heard this year. And I listen to a whole freaking bunch of albums.
Travis Green’s Rating: 3.75 out of 5