ARK ASCENT – DOWNFALL (Ascent Records)

Review by Stefan: I’m always looking forward to bands releasing their very first album, always an exciting moment whether or not they are doing well in my own opinion. This English formation was formed in 2011, under the name Prophecy, around multi-instrumentalist Jack Kirby who was later joined by none other than ex-Shadowkeep singer Rogue Marechal. Both gentlemen started producing a number of songs that had to be part of a first full-fledged album.

The rewriting and re-recording of songs over several years gave them the idea to add a bass player, who was found by the name Andrea Arcangeli (known from the bands DGM and Noveria). Late in 2017 a drummer was found who had to complete the ranks, his name Michael Brush (Sirenia, Holy Tide). You won’t hear Michael on the CD because the recordings were already over when he joined the band. Founder Jack Kirby takes care of all the drums and most of the keyboards. The piano interludes, which you will hear were delivered by Katia Filipovic, Tim Hall (Overdrive, Aonia) collaborated on the keyboard solo related to the instrumental section in the song ‘The End Of Time’.

As you can read, it took a long time to get the first album ready to be released but that’s no problem for me. It’s better to take your time to release a decent album than to work out something that isn’t worth listening to afterwards. Meanwhile a name change has taken place, Ark Ascent’s debut album “Downfall” has just been unleashed and the end result is quite promising. They managed to gather 11 songs together and offer their debut CD to fans of contemporary melodic power metal with a progressive vibe every now and then.

“Downfall” was mixed by Rich Hinks (Annihilator, Silent Call, Aeon Zen) and mastered by Rob Aubrey (Spock’s Beard, Pendragon, DragonForce). Cover spacy looking artwork was done the hands by Bob Eggleton and logo design delivered by Eric Philippe (Steve Walsh, The Rods, Coldspell, Phenomena).

I have listened to all of the songs for several times and in view of the recording quality I come to the conclusion that everything sounds as it should be for this type of music; loud and clear/polished. As far as I’m concerned, something too much modern oriented actually.

Each song has its own character and dignity on board to appeal every defender of mainstream power metal and I do have a problem with that anyway since my status as a metal aficionado of bygone years. I don’t take a negative view of this release because that wouldn’t be justified. It just sounds too polished/mainstream minded and too predictable to me, nothing more/nothing less. I’ve heard this all before so there is no question of a surprise effect. When I show my knowledge of the musical skills of everyone in the band, I have to admit that these guys have a lot of potential and a good attitude achieving a great success. I was able to witness a strong and fitting singer for this brand  of metal music, as well as the guitar supplier who knows how to charm me with a fair portion of technical and melodic skills. On top of that, I also noticed that the drums and keyboards are presented in a pleasant way, in response to the knowledgeable activities.

I want to end this review with a pretty positive feeling but that is purely personal and based on my own musical preference. I urge people who have a strong connection with contemporary modern style power metal to buy Ark Ascent’s debut album “Downfall”. They weren’t able to conquer my heart for real, but there are plenty of indications that the real fans of this genre will have a very pleasant experience when they buy the album via /

My rating: 82/100 (Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)