ASKA - Fire eater 4.5/5

Reviewed: 11-1-13





Tracklist:

1. Everyone dies
2. Dead again
3. Valhalla
4. Son of a god
5. Angela
6. Harlot of Eden
7. Red cell
8. The ripper
9. Year of jubilee
10. The last message
11. Eye of the serpent


ASKA’s 6th CD is a superb release in the vein of quintessential heavy metal. Imagine a style that’s a magnificent blend of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Saxon, and that’s what this band delivers. Those that know the band and have been waiting 6 years for the new release won’t be disappointed, and those that haven’t heard them yet but yearn for the classic denim and leather sound, without feeling dated, are in for a treat.

More than anything, the tremendous songs on the CD are what make it so great. The strong performances and solid production all build the foundation, but after only a couple of plays, the memorable choruses and entrancing lead lines will burn themselves deeply into your brain. I’m not much of a drinker, but when people talk about an expensive liquor that is really strong, but goes down smoothly, this is the metal equivalent.

This CD is very much in line with the style of the last ASKA CD, 'Absolute power', thoughtful and polished pure heavy metal. George Call is the singer and guitarist for the band, and it’s his outstanding and emotive vocals, unique but very much in the vein of the aforementioned bands, that lead the way into the fantastic songs. Chris Menta is the other guitarist delivering the leads and rhythm work that help create the metal edge to the tracks. Keith Knight is the bassist, although he apparently left the band shortly after the recording of the CD (though he luckily remains involved with the band), and Danny White, also of Omen and Sanctuary, is the drummer providing the rhythmic bedrock of the CD.

The CD takes off with the band and Call delivering “Everyone dies”, with verses reminiscent of the 'Painkiller' sound and motif, but with a more melodic chorus. “Dead again” is a sterling example of how good their melodies can be, when the vocal hooks and guitar lines meld together so well over the metal power. “Valhalla” feels like a sequel to “Valkyries”, one of the standout tracks from 2000's Avenger CD, pure metal all the way. Reactions may be mixed to “Angela”, a classic heartfelt romantic ballad, but it’s beautifully done for the style and those who can appreciate that particular mood. “Red cell” brings back the pure metal in a piercing tale of political persecution. The band’s treatment of Judas Priest’s “The ripper” is a bit surprising, since it starts with a slower, pulsing and more effect-soaked guitar riff than you might expect from a current traditional metal band, so it has a more crushing feeling, but with Call’s pure vocals guiding you through, it’s still a great ride. The band changes gears yet again with “Year of jubilee”, a traditional bardic song that might feel somewhat in the vein of Manowar’s “Crown and the ring” or Virgin Steele’s “Spirit of steele”, not written by the band, but works well. The CD closes with one of the best tracks, “Eye of the serpent”, which is a sensational collaboration with the Swiss metal band Emerald, and the song appeared on their most recent CD, 'Unleashed', and was one of the best tracks on that CD as well! It may have the most, ahem, metal bite on the whole disc.

Overall, ASKA is not trying to fit in with the current crop of power metallers paying homage to Rhapsody, Blind Guardian or Nightwish, or doing anything but delivering magnificently executed and written heavy metal. Fans who appreciate the classic metal sound and love melody to go with their power will thoroughly enjoy this.



CRAIG




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