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Ashes of Ares: Ashes of Ares

Ashes of Ares is the new band put together by former Iced Earth vocalist Matt Barlow, ex-Nevermore drum basher Van Williams, and onetime Iced Earth guitarist Freddie Vidales (who also plays bass here). We all know the story of Barlow coming and going from Iced Earth a few times over the last decade, the first to start a career in law enforcement, and the second to spend more time with his family after the bands touring schedule became too much for him. Well, it seems that the pull of the heavy metal siren was again too much for Barlow to resist, as he's paired up with Williams & Vidales here for an album that sounds, well, very much like vintage Iced Earth.

With that voice of his, I guess my last statement is pretty much a given. Sure, Williams (who is a house of fire throughout this album) might have brought on board some of the dark thrashy elements of Nevermore, but this is an epic, classic power metal album all the way, with Vidales' heavy riffs and textures providing the blueprint for Barlow to soar, and soar he does, still showing those vocal chops that are some of the best in the business. "On Warrior's Wings", "The Messenger", and "Punishment" contain all the power & emotion of the classic Iced Earth material, perhaps lacking some of Jon Schaffer's knack for overblown arrangements, which may or may not be a good thing for some. Personally, I like the more stripped down setting here, as these tunes don't try too hard to get too epic and just get down to business. And Barlow, man he sounds great, giving it his all on the anthem "This is My Hell", getting all poignant on us during "The Answer", and screaming to the heavens on "What I Am" (trying to show up current IE vocalist Stu Block perhaps?). Williams is all over the place with plenty of intricate fills on the churning "The One-Eyed King", a tune that also has some killer guitar work from Vidales.

Knowing Barlow's unwillingness to do much touring, don't get your hopes up to see Ashes of Ares at a concert venue near you anytime soon, but hopefully they can put something together in a limited scope, as these songs are great and deserve to be heard live. As debuts go, this one's all killer and no filler.

Track Listing
1. The Messenger
2. Move The Chains
3. On Warrior's Wings
4. Punishment
5. This Is My Hell
6. Dead Man's Plight
7. Chalice of Man
8. The Answer
9. What I Am
10. The One-Eyed King

Added: December 23rd 2013
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1826
Language: english

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