Aska - Avenger
As soon as Crown Of Thorns kicks in with its adept lifting of a famous SabbathWithDio vocal melody, you know you're in for a choice old headbang. And that's what this four record Texas band delivers, a rough, interestingly simplified cross between large looming gothic metal classics of old, and a lusty Manowar-ish biker metal that also recalls lost Canuck act Sword. Arrangements are next to nil, giving the record a poor man's integrity that puts the band squarely in American metal circa '85, something that actually sounds good in these shoes, given power metal's now tiring obsession with all things European. Avenger's an elaborate concept album, unlike its '97 predecessor Nine Tongues, a record I almost lean towards in preference, given its gleeful chain-swings between the puffy he-man rock found here and a frothy draft-swilling boogie metal. But Aska are thankfully still raw, quite bass-less, and straight-lined toward the essence of metal the way it was made in the bars back in '84. See www.askaband.com for more info.
Quo Vadis - Day Into Night
Initially I was quite blown away by this Montreal band's scorched earth blaze through vintage Carcass and At The Gates terrain. Then like an, er, trigger, I became severely annoyed by the constant double bass drums, seeming thousands of notes having pitter-pattered past by the time the record got old but fast. A silly reason to deny a record I know, but I found myself standing, control denied at the gates of death well before I could stomach this progged up bit of heartwork. Bloody thing sounds like a drummer's solo album. A valiant bit of Swedish-style melodic death to be sure, great riffs, but man, lay off the double bass. Strange, the only record that has been ruined by the drums until this one came along was the last Iced Earth. Rating caution: this can be sensibly argued as an 8.5 or a 9, and my HardRadio cohort in crime Tim Henderson has done just that.
Hard Reviews Page 5