Released: 2013, Pure Steel
I have nothing but the utmost admiration and respect for a band like Aska. In my mind there is an elite group of American metal warriors, the true unsung heroes of the 90’s who were creating classic Metal in the ‘dark times’ of the 90’s. These few bands I latched onto as the new hope for the scene. The bands such as Forte, Jag Panzer, Steel Prophet, New Eden, Symphony X, Iced Earth and more forged ahead oblivious of trends and made Metal for the love of Metal. I’m delighted to see that Aska is still going strong. FIRE EATER is the bands sixth album and while they may not have the big name recognition of global success of an Iced Earth for example, they are just as good in many respects.
It has been six years since ABSOLUTE POWER and the band have made the jump from the smallish label Vandium to the slightly bigger and more well-known Pure Steel label which is a really nice fit. There have been some line-up changes as well with the exit of drummer of Jason and the return of Damon Call who sat on the throne for several of the previous albums. FIRE EATER also sees the return of long-time guitarist Darren who played on the bands first four albums. I suppose you could say this is the ‘classic’ line-up of the Texas quartet.
Aska play a strain of metal so pure it hurts. From the chunky riffs, soaring vocals even down to the choice of cover tune (Priest’s ‘The Ripper’, about the 8th version I’ve heard of this classic cut) Aska bleeds metal. The band has some sweet melodies on cuts like ‘Harlot of Eden’, and lots of speed on intensity across all the songs. There is also a hint of keyboard here and there but not very much. The solos are, in fact, deadly and ripping, most of the time.
It always makes me wonder why this band is not bigger. They have it all; a cool name, cool logo, great cover art and all the little extras that make a band jump from ‘good’ to ‘great’. On top of those extras the band is loaded with talent on an individual and group level. There is no reason why they should not be as big as the aforementioned Iced Earth and FIRE EATER is the sonic proof.