Review by Stefan: Back in 2011, Nevermore ended their existence in a certain sense and from this ensued a collaboration between drummer Van Williams (who is currently playing in Ghost Ship Octavius) and former singing miracle Matt Barlow ! Another former, short-lived member of Iced Earth named Freddie Vidales was willing to work with as well. Ashes Of Ares was born and their self-titled debut album appeared two years later. To keep a long story short, I can tell that the album completely charmed me.
I have been following US Power Metal with passion since the eighties, and what AOF showed on their debut fully met my requirements. It felt good right away and this was due -in large part- to the magical singing qualities of supreme Mr. Barlow (also active in the band Pyramaze). Since his magisterial period with Iced Earth I have seen Matt as one of my absolute favorite frontmen of the past, let me say 10 to 20 years. Without any hesitation, I dare say that this greatness really can handle everything, the dream of every singer! Are you looking for a rough/raw singer – perhaps you are you attracted to flawless clean/high vocals… if you’re on the hunt for slightly emotional/tender type of vocals, without any problem you’re at the right place with mighty Matt. So the first Ashes Of Ares album was a must and if you want to know if the successor sounds equally good, you will find out immediately.
The cover artwork looks all-minded, as well as the booklet looks beautiful, very professional actually. Inside you will find beautiful artistic images, as well as the song lyrics are present. All this is the work of Kamil Pietruczynik and before I forget, the logo was created by drummer Van Williams (www.vanwilliams.net) himself. Regarding the quality of the sound I can assure you, this not too polished production appeals to me personally.
With moments there is a dark atmosphere and there is also room for melodramatic passages, as we also know from the good old Iced Earth period/Nevermore period. The guitars sound harsh but also bring the melodic aspect into a good and pleasant daylight. Knowing that only one guitarist has to keep things afloat, I have to say that he puts a brilliant performance that many can take as an example. If the name Ghost Ship Octavius does not tell you anything I would recommend you to visit this US Progpower metal act. I mention this because the Ashes Of Ares drummer is also active in GSO, and his technical drum skills speak volumes ! By far one of the better drumhead destroyers at the moment, take a look at: http://ghostshipoctavius.com/ and be convinced of the talent that he, and the rest of the fold has to offer… groundbreaking, I warn you !
“Well Of Souls” brings 11 songs and a bonus track that every fan of traditional power metal has to add to his collection instantly. World-class vocal lines, technical drums and an extensive range of guitar skills should enable you to take this album high on the list. If this does not seem to be the case afterwards, something is thoroughly wrong with your taste for first-class metal music. The year 2018 so far brought a whole bunch of good metal albums to light which makes my favorite top 20 albums a very difficult assignment to accomplish but no worries… I will let my heart speak to make a correct judgment. Whether or not Ashes Of Ares will reach the list will be announced at the end of the year through: https://metaltoinfinty.be . Additional band info at: http://www.ashesofares.com/ / https://www.facebook.com/AshesOfAres/
My rating: 90/100 (Surpasses the style of music, must be heard/ordered by every Metal fan)