Ashent - Flaws of elation 3.5/5
1. Flaws of men
3. Awakened's transition
4. Fallen angel
6. Silent remedy
7. Anaemic ardency
8. Persistence of frailty
9. A puzzled sentiment
Ashent's a fairly new band and their debut 'Flaws of elation' is an upbeat and aggressive variety of progressive metal with a good dose of power/thrash influences. Speed is very much present, but it's almost exclusively in the drumming, so don't expect typical power metal riffs/rhythms. Instead, the guitar work is in line with heavier progressive metal bands and, as expected, there are some keyboard parts (a few short but terrific solos stand out) and many changes in tempo. The CD is not all over the place however, and the band definitely has a focus, originality, and surprisingly, I quite like 'Flaws of elation'.
It was interesting to learn that the entire band is Italian (originally formed by 2 brothers; guitarist Onofrio Falanga and bassist Gianpaolo Falanga), except for vocalist Steve Braun, who's from the U.S. and got the position by responding to an advertisement by the band. It's no wonder they picked him up, as he's got an excellent high-pitched and clear voice that's perfect for the band's music style. I was also surprised to learn that Steve makes very regular trips to Italy, was there for the entire recording of 'Flaws of elation' at the beginning of 2006 (at the popular New Sin Studios), and will also be there for the recording of their 2nd CD in late 2007, which is expected to take place at New Sin Studios as well. His willingness to make the regular trips to Italy surely makes for a true band in my mind.
But in addition to Steve's vocals, there are backing death vocals, and to be quite honest, I think they fit the band's aggressive style just fine and are not out of place at all. Besides, there aren't an overwhelming amount of the backing death vocals, so those who aren't into extreme vocals shouldn't be turned away by this aspect. Plus, some songs are completely without the death vocals and are more in line with pure progressive metal bands, track 8 "Persistence of frailty" being the best example.
As for quality, the entire CD (with a few exceptions) is at a consistently "great" level and there aren't really any highlights for me. I will mention that the instrumental track 9 "A puzzled sentiment" (which features guitar-piano interplay) is awesome! But I also must mention that the one song I dislike is track 5 "Illusory", as the vocals don't fit the music throughout its majority. Still, with excellent vocals, upbeat music with a good amount of speed, and a high number of strong songs, this a recommended CD. Regular readers of my writing know that I only own a handful of progressive metal bands, and while I wouldn't label 'Flaws of elation' pure progressive metal, if I had to choose my prog, I'd definitely take it Ashent style.
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