Black vinyl with lyric insert. Limited 300 copies
Ascalon, the heavy metal vigilantes from UK makes their debut with Reflections. Influenced by legends like Judas Priest, Saxon and Angel Witch, they are considered as one of the best newcomers of new wave of traditional heavy metal. Within 5 seconds, you’ll be donning your black jacket and frantically searching for the nearest Harley chopper – because the opening riff to Speed Daze is absolutely awesome. It’s both catchy and grandiose, and the perfect way to ensnare a fan. This is pure Maiden-worship in the best way possible. The production contains the right amount of grit and authenticity – pushing the shredding guitars right to the front of the mix. And good job too! Chris Marsh and Matt Gerrard pull off some blazing duels; an air-guitarist’s paradise. Vince Scott’s performance behind the kit is no less than admirable, especially when the tempo picks up to true Euro-power speed on Red Leather. There are power metal influences from the likes of Blind Guardian and Helloween popping up here and there – but the inspiration remains firmly rooted in NWoBHM. Any Priest or Saxon fan should sit up and take notice…and let’s face it, that’s all of us! Not that this EP is a one-trick pony – there are plenty of moments to make us listeners perk up and pay attention. The brief vocal-only break before the chorus of Red Leather drops is a hair-raising moment. The snap tempo change three and a half minutes into the title-track is so off-kilter and unexpected, it makes me grin. And lest we forget the two minute interlude Outlaw’s Hymn, showcasing some wonderfully atmospheric acoustic work, which finally makes the brilliant cover art seem appropriate. The whole affair is rough around the edges, but that’s most definitely the point. Matt’s vocals match this tone by carrying each melody with aplomb, yet managing to retain some grit to his delivery. He really shines in the multi-faceted The Enforcer, which dare I say, verges on having a progressive tinge – but is a really well-crafted heavy metal song in all respects. Overall, if you need your short, sharp, shock of pure heavy metal for the 21st century – Ascalon deliver in droves. Reflections has me salivating for something more substantial, but also serves its purpose as an introductory EP perfectly. Hail to England!
1. Speed Daze
3. Red Leather
4. Outlaw’s Hymn
5. The Enforcer