Modern bands have succeeded in emulating many of the great sounds of the 80’s, but one subgenre that has been largely ignored in present times (like it was in the 80’s) is US power metal. The US part may be a bit arbitrary, as it’s more about the sound, but in any case, newcomers Avalon Steel are from the US, and they play metal in the vein of classic bands like Omen, Manilla Road, and others. Much like those bands, Avalon Steel features a singer who is immediately noticeable as being completely unique. He has a huge bass of a voice, likely influenced by some doom bands or even Peter Steele (Carnivore/Type O Negative). He does have the ability to get into a higher range, but his more natural lower sound is great because it makes everything sound completely epic. He is one primary factor of what sets this EP apart from most modern metal, but there are definitely others as well.
In many ways this release is a rebellion against newer traditional heavy metal bands that have perfect production, soaring high vocalists, and endless shredding. In contrast, “Ascension” has a sound that isn’t excessively clean (though still pretty good sounding), a deeper vocalist, and more tasteful lead guitar playing. The solos are still relatively prominent on this release, but they aren’t simply there to be flashy. Musically, Avalon Steel tends to gallop along at a mid-paced tempo for most of the EP. Both “The Winter King” and “Curse of the Doomwraiths” make plenty of use of that charging sound in their verses, then lay off the gallops into a more melodic chorus. Both songs have enjoyable choruses, but it is the former track that is truly incredible. “The Winter King” is an immediate winner of a song, and you’ll find yourself humming along to the vocal lines after a single listen. This track really manages to capture the epic, majestic feel that a band like Cirith Ungol portrayed. “Curse of the Doomwraiths” is a bit less obvious in its quality, as it took a few listens to get into, but it is still quite a potent track. The final song, “Trapped In A Nightmare”, is largely similar to the other two, but it feels a bit less energetic for most of the track as it doesn’t use any galloping. Nevertheless, it is just as good of a song. The end of the chorus shows the heights of Tommy Parnelle’s vocal range. While this sound is not used often, it is certainly effective. Towards the end of the song, however, the speed picks up, which is pretty much the only time on the EP that things get pretty fast.
Overall, “Ascension” is a unique release in today’s times. They’ve brought back a sound that was underappreciated in its own time, and is still largely ignored by newer bands. If this EP is any indication of the band’s potential, they are going to make an impact in the metal scene. Don’t wait around for an album though; “Ascension” is worth every penny and then some!
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"The Winter King"
"Curse of the Doomwraiths"
4.5/5 or 90%.
Written by Scott