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The Lion And The Jester
Released: 2015, Indie
There are not very many bands in Canada that play progressive Power metal and even fewer that incorporate symphonic elements. There are a few out there that try hard but they tend to ruin a good album with screaming vocals or tainted the music with ‘core’ elements. Fortunately, for my tastes there is a new band from Toronto, Ontario that writes and performs a pure strain of the kind of Metal one usually associates with Europe. The debut album THE LION AND THE JESTER is fantastic and already in heavy rotation in my Canadian selections. The young band has presented a 12 track, hour-long album that is very enjoyable and impressive for a new band.
I’m not quite sure about the album art, it looks more like a tiger and an angel to me, but I’m no artist. The production is very good for an independent product, the vocals sit nicely in the mix. Speaking of vocals, the pipes of Nick Sakal are world-class; he sings in a slightly lower register with such power and clarity, it’s impressive. His delivery of the lyrics is quite sophisticated and mature, unlike some new singers who just want to let it all hang out all the time at the early phases in their recording career. Saskal shows some restraint and recalls some of the fine work of Roy Khan.
Musically the band recalls any number of excellent bands from Angra to Pagan’s Mind to Symphony X to the aforementioned Kamelot. Strong songs, excellent and dynamic performances are found in songs that rage when necessary but have nuances as well, such as hints of acoustic guitar, acoustic piano or orchestration. Some of the keyboard work is also excellent such as on ‘Moonchild’. The band writes songs with a hint of darkness as well, I’d cite ‘Demon Eyes’ as an excellent example of this, it’s not all ‘happy’ Power Metal. The orchestration is present but not too epic or bombastic is it just used as accent and emphasis of the solid Metal songs. The pace of the album is quick as all good Metal should be, but doesn’t just get fast for the sake of fast, they use a variety of tempos as the mood dictates.
I’m really enjoying this album and I have no doubt that that Ascendia will quickly become one of Canada’s best bands in my mind. However, with so many Canadian metalheads firmly entrenched in the modern, tech-death-thrash sound, Ascendia (like Borealis and Kobra And The Lotus) may find more success overseas. That’s a shame because more Canadian Metal fans need to recognize the high-level of domestic talent we have at home, as heard on THE LION AND THE JESTER, a very early contender for Canadian album of the year.
At The End Of It All
No More Tales To Tell
Why Angels Cry
My Last Song
The Song That You Deserved
The Lion And The Jester
Starlit Eyes (Bonus Track)
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