The two members of Ascension Theory call their music "progressive cinematic metal," but the material on Regeneration is a far cry from the epic Hollywood metal that Rhapsody so enthusiastically embraces. Granted, this album is based on a sci-fi concept and revels in pure bombast from time to time, but as members of the subtle but powerful American band Aztec Jade, Ascension Theory's multi-instrumentalist Tim Becker and vocalist Leon Ozug know how to rein themselves in much more than Luca Turilli and Co.
Ascension Theory draws favorable comparisons to Aztec Jade, Symphony X and old-school Queensr˙che while telling the tale of two interstellar civilizations locked in a perpetual war. A veteran soldier from one side dreams of building a new colony far enough away from the fighting to live in peace. He is dealt a devastating blow on his first attempt, though, as his fleet is ambushed by the enemy and forced to crash on a desolate moon. There, he encounters a hospitable but previously unknown race of beings who are on the verge of fulfilling a dream of their own. Sound far-fetched? You bet.
But the majesty of "Speaker," the prettiness of "Pieces" and the sweeping orchestration of the title-track finale help redeem this plot. Plus, the gorgeous voice of Jodi St. John lifts the ballad "Lovers" to heights previously unattained by Ascension Theory and leaves listeners wondering how the duo would sound if it also incorporated Luse into some of its heavier numbers. Full of one-word song titles, Regeneration begins to stick in your head after a few spins. This is intelligent, highly listenable progressive metal that should appeal to fans who consider Rhapsody to be a tad too much.
6) Sleepers (One Flys Away)
Total Time: 46:52