Every few years you tend to see some really promising progressive metal acts coming out of Italy-well, add another name to the list, and one that you'll want to check out if you haven't already. The band's name is Ashent, and their new CD on Lion Music is called Deconstructive, a very well put together amalgam of progressive metal, thrash, death & black metal, and fusion. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo recently spoke with bassist Gian Falanga and drummer Davide Buso about the hot new album, the history of the band, and how they plan to spread the word about their diverse sounds.
SoT: Many progressive metal fans, especially here in the US, might not yet be familiar with Ashent. Can you talk a little bit about the history of the band, how you came together, and ultimately ended up on Lion Music?
Gian:Hi Pete, first of all let me say "hi" to all the readers of Sea of Tranquillity.
We have a very common story: me and my brother decided to found the band in the year 2001. In 2003 we recorded "Ashent", our first demo, that created a lot of interest around the band.
After the release of the 4-tracks and a change of line-up, we signed with Lucretia Records, that released our debut album,"Flaws of Elation", at the end of the 2006.
I am very proud of that album, and we received some excellent feedback from the critics, but we felt the necessity to sign with a greater label that could promote our music in the best way possible, so during 2008 we started to record Deconstructive and to search for another label. To sign with Lion Music has been very simple: we love the label, they love Ashent.
SoT: How about influences-what bands helped Ashent shape their style of progressive metal?
Davide:Ashent's style is generated by a lot of different musical influences and genres. We cannot say that we try to follow the same path of a specific band. Our sound developed by a great bunch of suggestions that every bandmates receives almost daily. Surely, we all admire the work made by bands/artists like Opeth, Arcturus, Pain of Salvation, Dimmu Borgir, Devin Townsend, Cynic, Death through the years and the band's very first roots could be found in the Thrash Metal scene of the eighties/nineties, in the classic metal-rock bands, in the prog of the seventies and all the free-minded music out there.
SoT: Deconstructive offers more to the fans of the genre than most in that you inject elements of thrash and death/black metal into your music. Was that a conscious decision to rely on more than just traditional prog-metal styles, or is this just the focus of the band?
Davide:The sound of the band born and develops through each member's musical experiences. What you can hear today in "Deconstructive" is the result of the way we compose music; we concept music composition as a great workshop where every member contributes with its own taste and way of thinking music based on the musical background and listening. At the beginning one of us (usually Onofrio) presents an idea to the band, then we start working on the arrangements of each instrument by ourselves, submitting the result to the opinion of all the bandmates. When we realize that the song works, we start rehearsing and working to knock the rough edges off. We can't say that we decide how a song must sound; for sure we consolidated a work method that allow us to know what will be the steps to walk to reach the final focus: to make the new material sound absolutely Ashent !
SoT: Ashent combines melody, technical virtuosity, and brutal metal all into one seamless sound. How hard is it to put all of these elements together effectively?
Davide: As I mentioned in the previous question, we consolidated our own work method through the years. It's based on experience and reciprocal knowledge of each member's tastes and background. We know where we want to go, but usually we don't know what we will meet in the path between! Every bandmate takes part actively in the arrangement process and it seems that everyone has the right piece of the puzzle to insert to complete the picture. Sometimes it happens that the final result is a sort of weird abstract painting, a recollection of different sensations suggested by the music during the development of the song, based on the different emotions every member feels while listening to the growing material. What more can I say ? It's so natural to us ...
SoT: Judging by the snippets of fusion as well as extreme metal in your music, I'd say it's safe to say that the members of Ashent probably all listen to a variety of music in their spare time. What bands are your members into these days?
Davide: Sure, all of us listen to a wide range of music in his spare time. We are very open-minded and enjoy all the music that gives us emotions, good-vibes and stimulates our musicality. We listen to metal, rock, '70 progressive rock, pop, beat, classical, folk, jazz, fusion, r&b, electronic, lounge and more. I think every musical genre has it's own way of shaking our souls and minds and helping us to feel better. Music is magic in all its expressions.
If you want specific names I could tell you that in these days I'm listening to: Obscura, Novembre, Toto, Beatles, Pink Floyd, Kansas and some italian stuff.
SoT: The new CD is filled with plenty of impressive songs, and it might be surprising to a new listener that Ashent is practically a new band. What songs on Deconstructive are you most proud of?
Davide: Thank you for the kind words. It's difficult to choose a song among the ones in the album; it's as hard as if you ask a father to choose his favorite child ! However I can tell you that personally I love " Imperfect" because it's perfect as a single song, "The resonance of life" because it summarizes the Ashent's sound in every aspect, "Cassandra" because it's weird and unusual and finally "How could it feel like this?" because it represents the inmost part of the band's sound, our way of demonstrating that we can embrace music in its wholeness, without losing our own style.
Gian: As Davide, I am very bound to "Imperfect", but also to "Spectral Vanity", a very complex song, where you can find all the elements of Deconstructive: it is a good summary of the album's sound.
SoT: Has the band planned any tours, or performed much live up to this point?
Gian: We are trying to organize our live activity in order to share our music with more people possible: to play across Europe is one of our priorities, in order to let the people discover also our "on stage" side.
SoT: If you could go out on the road with 2 other bands of your choice for a hot triple bill, who would they be?
Davide: Cool question ! Actually I think every one of us would like to play with Opeth and Pain of Salvation. Unfortunately Arcturus disbanded (but maybe there are coming back !!) It would be great to play also with roman band Novembre.
Gian: Yes, a very interesting question... I could imagine these bills: Nevermore, Cynic and Ashent , or Emperor, Frost* and Ashent ahahah: as I said I love a lot of different bands.
SoT: The production qualities on Deconstructive are excellent-can you talk a little bit about your time in the studio recording the CD and how you feel it came out in the end?
Gian: My brother Onofrio and me are very involved in the music-production's world so, with the help of our good friend and great producer Luigi Stefanini, the recording session of Deconstructive has been very easy. The production's idea was in our mind from the beginning: we wanted something not too proggy but a mix of
some prog-rock elements with a huge 7 strings guitar's sound and a very powerful drum, following the idea of producers like Andy Sneap. The guitar's tracks has been made at The Spectre Sound studio in Canada, and all the other stuff at the New Sin Studio in Italy.
SoT: What can we expect from Ashent in the near future?
Gian: We are already composing the material that will be in the third album, because our composition's process never stops and the new songs sound really interesting.
As i said before we are also organizing more gigs as possible: to have a real contact with the guys that follow us is very important. We have a constant contact with them (I don't want to call them "fans" because, everyone of us is simply a fan of the Music) using the common web's channels like myspace(www.myspace.com/ashentband)or our website(www.ashent.net) but the live experience is totally different.
(Click here to read our review of Deconstructive