Released: 2013, Limb Records
The raging success of Dragonforce continues to make it’s impact on the global Power Metal scene. One of the many positive impacts that great band has brought was it showed young musicians that it was acceptable, and even cool, to play super fast, highly technical Metal again. Perhaps their most enduring legacy will be that they almost single-handedly launched the Neo-Speed Metal revival and inspired dozens of young bands around the world including Ascension.
Ascension was formed in Scotland and after a couple of EP’s the Asian label, Spiritual Beast, picked up the band in 2012 for the debut album FAR BEYOND THE STARS. Once again the veteran Asian label is ahead of the times with their signing prowess and it wasn’t long before another industry leader, Limb Music picked up the album in 2013 for a wider-scale release. The good people at Limb even added a bonus track for the European and North American audience.
This young quintet are incredibly talented musicians as you have to be in order to perform this type of music successfully. FAR BEYOND THE STARS just starts. No intro. No acoustic warm-up. No narration. No keyboards or drum roll count in. It’s just instantly ‘GO!!’ at full-speed for all 67 minutes of the 11 tracks. The vocals of Richard Carnie soar into the stratosphere with a super melodic delivery that accentuates the already catchy choruses, making it fun and easy to sing along. Most of the lyrics have a metaphysical and outerspace theme with cuts like, the speedy opener ‘Somewhere Back In Time’, ‘Moongate’ and the title track. The twin guitar attack of Stuart and Fraser brings wave upon wave of fantastic, frantic playing and mind-bending solos. All of this sonic assault is propelled by the uber-fast rhythm section. The song construction is a very happy Euro-Metal style, upbeat, soaring and did I mention fast?
I suppose some critics and cynics may criticize Ascension as being a Dragonforce clone but originality has never been a critical component for my enjoyment in music. I’d rather have an army of Dragonforce clones than even one talentless post-whatever, shoegaze, hipster band currently polluting the music scene.
FAR BEYOND THE STARS really has that full speed or no speed sound that I adore in Metal and accordingly made my Top 10 for my Metal-Rules.com picks in 2013. They were so good I had to ‘bend’ the rules and including the reissue as a 2013 release. I hope we will be hearing more from this exciting young band. If they continue to release material as exciting as FAR BEYOND THE STARS they will have a long and successful career.