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4.50 | 9 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2013


1. The Messenger (5:07)
2. Move the Chains (4:33)
3. On Warrior's Wings (5:19)
4. Punishment (5:20)
5. This is my Hell (5:13)
6. Dead Man's Plight (4:40)
7. Chalice of Man (3:48)
8. The Answer (3:51)
9. What I Am (4:06)
10. The One-Eyed King (4:24)

Total Time 46:21


- Matt Barlow / Vocals
- Freddie Vidales / Guitars, Bass
- Van Williams / Drums

Guest/Session Musicians:

- Kris Rodgers / Keyboards (Track 8)
- Jeff Loomis / Guitars (Track 4)
- Gio Geraca / Guitars (Track 7)
- Jim Morris / Keyboards (Track 9), Backing Vocals (Tracks 2, 9)
- Dave Kaminsky / Backing Vocals (Tracks 2, 9)

About this release

Released by Nuclear Blast Records, September 6th 2013.

Thanks to adg211288 for the addition


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"Ashes of Ares" is the self-titled debut full-length studio album by US power metal act Ashes of Ares. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in September 2013. Ashes of Ares are a three-piece consisting of Matt Barlow (ex-Iced Earth, ex-Pyramaze) on vocals, Freddie Vidales (ex-Iced Earth) on guitars and bass, and Van Williams (ex-Nevermore) on drums. All three guys are very prolific musicians on the US power metal scene. So I guess the term US power metal "supergroup" is valid to use here.

The music on "Ashes of Ares" is classic US power metal featuring both traditional heavy metal elements and a couple of more thrashy moments. To my ears the guitars and the bass are pretty ordinary for the genre, but the drumming by Van Williams is great and a bit more adventurous than what you normally hear on an US power metal release. It´s lead vocalist Matt Barlow that takes the prize here though. It´s not that his strong vocal performance or powerful and distinct sounding voice is a surprise if you´re familiar with his output with Iced Earth and Pyramaze, but I´m still blown away by how great he is every time I hear him sing. He is incredibly talented and is capable of singing both high pitched notes and deeper more raw vocals.

The material on the album is pretty standard for the genre. There is little here that´ll surprise a seasoned US power metal listener, but it´s never been a genre of music that hailed innovation, so most listeners probably don´t care one bit if I characterize the music as slightly generic. The tracks generally work really well though and several of the anthemic choruses are stuck in my mind after the album has finished. So overall this is a great debut album by Ashes of Ares. I have a slight issue with the sound production which affects my rating though. The drums feature quite a horrible reverb laden production that gives them an unpleasant artificial sound, that doesn´t suit the music well and quite frankly I end up consentrating way too much on the weak drum sound instead of enjoying the music. Therefore a half star comes off my rating and my final rating is a 3.5 star (70%) rating.
Kev Rowland
It is always interesting when well-known musicians get together to form a new band, and while it is a given that they can all play, do they have enough musical ideas to set the new band apart from their own past? This trio comprises Matt Barlow (vocals – ex Iced Earth), Freddie Vidales (guitar/ bass - ex Iced Earth) and Van Williams (drums - ex Nevermore). Now, there is a pretty solid case to say that Matt’s best work has been with Iced Earth, and vice versa, but he hasn’t been setting the world alight with his most recent works, so it was with great interest that I put this on the player. Ten songs later I did just what any self-respecting metalhead would do – went to the fridge to get more beer, turned the player up just that little bit more, and settled back to go through it again.

This is one of those albums that grabs the listener by both the balls and the ears and brings them in immediately. Whatever you want from a traditional metal album then I can pretty much guarantee that it is here. The band say that during the recording they felt influenced by more classic band such as Iron Maiden and Saxon, but also by more extreme bands like Behemoth and Machine Head. While I can hear all of these, there is also a healthy dose of classic Nineties Iced Earth as one could well expect. We end up with a melodic, extremely well crafted metal album, with strong riffs, great rhythm section, lyrical guitar solos and stunning vocals. Come on guys, how on earth could you wish for anything more than this? 5 solid gold stars all the way – this one is a keeper..
Vocalist Matt Barlow may have made quite a name for himself in the metal world as the frontman for US Power/Heavy/Thrash Metal act Iced Earth between 1993 - 2003, but since then the metal world has had to make do with a Barlow light diet. When he did return to the scene in 2008, as is perhaps the way with all things, especially buses, two albums came at once. One was a reunion with Iced Earth, The Crucible of Man. The other was with a Danish progressive power metal act called Pyramaze. The album was called Immortal and it was actually the better of the two Barlow fronted albums of 2008. Ultimately though Matt Barlow did not stick with either band. After leaving Iced Earth for a second time he was replaced by Into Eternity vocalist Stu Block while Pyramaze settled on the Swedish singer Urban Breed. Barlow was actually with Iced Earth as recently as 2011, however the self-titled debut album (2013) of new band Ashes of Ares, in which he teams up with former Iced Earth band mate Freddie Vidales and ex-Nevermore drummer Van Williams, is the first time in five years that Barlow has appeared on a metal album as the lead vocalist.

And boy has this man been missed. Straight away with the opening track The Messenger you can hear why Barlow is such a well regarded singer. This is quite easily his best performance since his original Iced Earth tenure, just to make Ashes of Ares that bit more special. The music itself perhaps expectedly bears some resemblance to Iced Earth's material, particularly the traditional heavy metal side of it although there are some elements of USPM and thrash metal to be heard at various times during the release, adding in an aggressive factor next to the melodic aspects. The direction of the music in short is not exactly shocking given who's involved. Simply put Ashes of Ares represent just how good and powerful classic heavy metal can be. The songs instantly captivate and kick arse. While not every one of them is a masterpiece in its own right, there are plenty of highlights here including Move the Chains, Dead Man's Plight, Chalice of Man and the thrashy What I Am. There's the obligatory ballad in the form of The Answer, but even that is really good stuff, no doubt down to Ashes of Ares realisation that a metal ballad still needs, you know, metal elements.

And really what else do you need a traditional metal album to do? Not half as much as what Ashes of Ares actually does from where I'm sitting. This is without a doubt in my mind, despite some close competition from acts like Huntress and A Sound of Thunder, the best traditional heavy metal release of 2013 so far. Absolutely essential, especially if you enjoy Iced Earth's more traditionally oriented material or just like metal in general, really. A top tier rating is deserved. Welcome back Matt, don't leave it another five years next time yeah?


(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven:

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