Aberdeen, at the foot of the Scottish Highlands, is not exactly an ideal place to form a metal band. The somewhat remote town has a provincial character and in the annals of the rock world has produced nothing of note. So when a metal band emerges from the town, that alone should be enough to sit up and take notice, but when that group leans towards the sound and styles of bands such as Gamma Ray, Helloween, Hammerfall and Dragonforce, then it's time to look and listen with even more interest. ASCENSION, with their new release "Far Beyond The Stars", delivers furious metal fireworks, bursting with great riffs, driving and galloping rhythms and metal compositions in the true spirit of the word. The five lads from Scotland utterly convince fans with this, their debut full-length work, right down the line, with metal in the classical style and influenced by the aforesaid bands. With "Far Beyond The Stars" the Scots deliver a pure heave metal album, with stress laid on twin-barrel riffs, a beating pace and ass-kicking vocals. The sound is not padded out with keyboards but stands proud and unique thanks to the somewhat raw, combined guitar power of the Stuart Docherty/Fraser Edwards duo, which often reminds one of their copatriots, Dragonforce. Right at the thundering opener, "Somewhere Back In Time", the quintet's strength combines into a powerful hymn. "Blackthorne" is in the same vein, but comes over overall as slightly more progressive, picking up speed in a clearer way. An interesting point of the track is the voice of vocalist Ricki Carnie, which finds itself in impressive heights before reverting again to clear rock levels to drive the song forwards. The technical standard of the five Scots is enormous, especially in view of the speed of their playing. The songs are varied and fast but in no way do they make the listener think "heard this before". "Moongate" is textbook metal. Fast, with a Helloween-like melody line running through it and is an amazing headbanger track. You can feel the energy, which the lads put into the songs to musically embody their love of metal. And to prove that it doesn't always have to be full speed ahead, there is "The Silver Tide", with its impressive vocal performance and a very interesting guitar sound. The track could best be described as a power ballad. "Far Beyond The Stars" is an excellent album which fans of fast, high standard metal can put on their shopping list without thinking twice. Besides the ten regular
songs, the European CD version also includes the Roxette cover version of "Listen To Your Heart", as well as the video clip of "Somewhere Back In Time" which they recorded for the Japanese market.