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Italy has a flourishing metal scene, heavily involved and participating in the power metal field of metal. With plenty of bands following the 'flowery' Rhapsody style it's hard to find a band that strays from the image and brings something new to the table within the Italian scene. Ashent are a relatively young and new talented band of newcomers bringing in a melodic and progressive blend of power metal throwing together unconventional music. Though, obviously you say, that's exactly what "progressive" metal is in theory and concept; well duh.
Ashent's 2003 self-titled demo contained four songs of a premier blend of what you expect to be progressive metal. Featuring a general nod towards Dream Theater like melodies and a traditional power metal/hard rock style with solid songwriting skills. After hearing just this demo from Ashent, I'm highly impressed with the professionalism and pure strong songwriting prowess from a young and unknown band. Double bass powering along with Dream Theater like keyboard sections and a rhythm section straight from Petrucci's notebook, a prog fan can't really go wrong here. Vocalist Steve Braun has a strong set of pipes on him, with great range being showcased on every song; particularly on Fallen Angel reminding me of a Pagan's Mind song and his best Nils Rue impression; even the spacey keys to boot!
The crunchy and solid "progressive" style riffing is here, highly influenced by Dream Theater yet with a strong hard rock and slight thrash influence. Note the opening riff on the closer song Awakened's Transitions, there's definite thrash metal influence to be found. A few scattered death growls are found, a bit like early Cynic or something, though a bit out of place. The pure melody and sense of purpose that the leads and keyboards found here are something I admire and will look forward to on their full lengths. The strong melodic nature of this album brings in a lighter sense of what you find in power metal, though not necessarily "flowery" by any means as there is a definite heavier almost thrash like appeal to be found, even on this demo. Ashent is a young and strong band with a lot of professional potential; as they should have a strong following and a rising fanbase amongst the rising and flourishing Italian metal scene; check out this band if you are interested in an Italian prog/power metal band that doesn't play like Rhapsody. The songs featured on this demo are later to be found on their debut album, Flaws of Elation.