When a title like Ascenscion of Kings comes by, it is tempting to associate it with Lord of the Rings. Which would be fine, if we hadn't been swamped in LotR for seven years. And luckily, the album of this title, by British Nth Ascenscion has nothing to do with it. Instead, there seem to be two stories about kings mixed in with the other tracks - one of them (Clanaan Pt1 - Pt3) in the form of a longer story that will continue on future albums.
The opening track Fourht Kingdom may give a wrong impression on first listen. It opens with a hard rock guitar and growling bass, suggesting that this is a heavy rock album. However, once the melodic keyboards come in things change and become more symphonic - but the heavy touch stays and continues into the second track, Return of the King. A more complex track musically, with a great guitar and keyboard crecsendo at the end.
From there, the sound of the album is defined - well performed, layered keyboard melodies, good guitar work and an ever present pulsing of drum and bass - with frantic pieces of double bass drumming thrown in. However, the band does make sure that it is not just that: in Realm with a soul (Clanaan Pt2) there is room for an acoustic guitar and Weight of the World gradually builds up from a piano piece to a full blown rock track in a span of almost 7 minutes. Lots of room for variation there!
A separate note on the closing track Vision, which tells about the exit of the Jews from Egypt. For some reason, when listening and taking notes, I wrote down a few times that this could've been part of an Ayreon album - a great track.
All in all, a very enjoyable album, although the sound of the band is not completely unique amongst UK bands. The musicianship and the specific voice of Alan Taylor do give Nth Ascensions their own signature though.
Production wise the album made a good impression as well - no compression overdose, melody layers that were not even near becoming muddy and well recognisable individual instruments.
A great effort, with room for a bit more - I'd like to challenge the band into putting another step up on the next album.
NTH Ascension are new to me and I am very pleasantly surprised!! They are (somehow) under the moniker: Neo prog with a hard egde, putting them comfortably in the same region as say: Arena (the later stuff)/ Pallas and Pendragon, but also with hints here and there to (though slightly) to Foreigner! That said, they have quite their own approach!!
First of all, their front figure and lead singer: Alan Taylor, has a strong voice, a sometimes commanding voice, that perfectly suits the bands strong delivery! Strong is the keyword here, since these brilliant musicians delivers on every tune, each song perfectly build and produced!!
I normally and usually (the reviewers codex) listen to an album/release once and twice, then making notes, going back... listening once more, making notes, then a final or 2 more listenings, before writing the review!! I guess my fellow reviewer Zach agrees!!??
Of course you (the reviewer) immediately detects if said album is a bummer!
Luckily this is not the case!! This album is quite brilliant to say the least!
The three Walker Brothers (sorry I had to use that) Martin on brilliant guitars, Gavin on solid bass and Craig on great and sometimes thundering drums!!
Add to that, the fine and perfect keyboards of Darrel Treece-Birch.
In reference to my reviewers codex statement, I have listened to this album some 20 times now and it gets better and better for every spin!!
I love this album :-) I love this band!!
Cant wait to hear more from them!!
NO...I am not gonna name any titles or preferences to tracks!! They are all great and this is a killer album! A killer album from a band that will (if justice in progworld exists) will be huge in the future!!
I have to rate high :-) So I do!!
Appendix: Lead vocalist Alan Taylor really is superb - an amazing vocalist!!