Released: 2000, EMA Records
Aska hail from from Arlington, TX, USA! The style of metal here is traditional metal bordering on power metal. It's nice to hear that this kind of music is alive and well in a band like Aska and in a band from the USA! This is not the power metal with soaring vocals and endless speedy double kicks. Some of those ingredients are present, but overall this is traditional metal. Aska already have their own sound carved out even though you can hear some of their influences - especially Iron Maiden. This is my first introduction to the band and from all reports this is their their strongest, most consistent, work.
Upon my first listen my opinion was "this is solid heavy metal." On the second listen riffs were beginning to stand out, melodies were becoming entrenched, vocal lines were being memorized. I'm on my 9th or 10th listen as I write this and it honestly gets better every time I listen to it. The CD beings with one of the stronger tracks, "Crown of Thorns." The simple guitar melody line over the intro totally works and the way the drums fit over the riff will have your head banging along within seconds. Melodic guitar passages tell of a Maiden influence in the CD's second track "Leather" which has some nice harmony and rhythms. Most songs on here are mid-paced but some have the thundering double kicks like "Angels of War." The main riff in this one sounds totally classic yet not outdated or cheesy. The ending screams by vocalist George Call are also pretty damn good!!! The CD's upbeat track "Eternal Night" is another of my favorites...yeah I can't help it, I like the faster songs. This song is PURE STEEL. "Imperial Rome" is another song that stood out. Great Virgin Steele-esque styled song about "the glory of Rome." I'm also a sucker for lyrics about history, my minor in history at university also helped foster an even greater interest in some periods of history - Roman history being but one. "Imperial Rome" has a very cool drum part at approximately the 4-minute mark followed by some bleeding leads. I also love the vocals and the way the verses are phrased on this one...man this sounds like it really took some time to work out. "Valkyries" is another stand out track, cool riffing and an excellent memorable chorus. The harmony guitar parts in this are great with the backing acoustic guitars and pure metal vocals.
This album seems to be somewhat of a concept album but it's not "in your face" so to speak. Their are connections that can be drawn between the tracks but I don't feel like stating exactly what they are without further thought, reading and listening. The basic story seems to have a sci-fi edge to it with the extermination of all men who are capable of reproduction (called breeders in the story) by the "outworlders" (or aliens). One is conceived who is the Avenger, the one who prophecy dictates will supposedly free mankind. It goes along something like that. If you pick up the CD then definitely read along to the lyrics!!
I honestly believe that all fans of traditional metal will lap this CD up! Fans of bands like Maiden, Manowar, Virgin Steele, Dio, Jag Panzer and to some extent Blind Guardian and HammerFall should give this band a chance. If you like your metal gritty with melodic yet heavy influences then this is something to watch out for. Why these guys are not a household name is baffling! A couple more albums like this one should change their status! Read up on this band at http://www.askaband.com