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My album of the year - 95%

bsercombe, September 12th, 2007

Since taking delivery of the 2007 released Ascendence I've become completely addicted to power metal. Sure, I was a Dungeon fan before and sad to see them go, however, LORD has succeeded in no uncertain terms in filling the huge vacuum left after Dungeon was laid to rest. They're in touch with their fans daily via the online forum at http://www.lord.net.au, you can hear ascendence samples at http://www.myspace.com/lordaus or view videos of their live performances at http://www.youtube.com/LORDofficial.

From the time you open the case you know these guys have gone all out to provide a quality product. The booklet is printed on thicker than normal paper and is beautifully glossy. The cover art is awesome and ties in well with the headline track. On to the music.

Echoes Of The Past - One of those non-musical scene setting tracks that intros many a metal album. Aficionados will recognise the Dungeon crossover.

Reborn - This is the most powerful song on the album and IMHO the title track. Blistering rhythms, kick-ass lyrics and a wrenching solo from Lord Tim. Words can't do it justice. Just go listen to it.

Going Down - One of the things I like most about this song is the intro, the combination of three wrecking 5ths on top of the clean guitar (starting at 0:25) threatened to send me deaf since I just had to turn it up!! This idea makes a second appearance at the start of the solo, Guitar freaks- do not miss the solo at 3:12.

Same Old Lines - Featuring heavyweight guest solos from Mark Furtner and vocals from Tania Moran and Gareth Michael. This is not a song to be experienced at 192kbps, play the CD and preferably with a good amp behind it as there are hundreds vocal tracks in this one!

Rain - Lord: the band where even the ballads have balls! Watch for the break in this one- it gives me goose bumps every time I listen to it. The most innovative and emotive intro into a solo I have ever heard for a very long time. This song showcases Andy Dowling on bass and more power in the main rhythm riffs than anyone would expect from a ballad.

My Own Way - It seems that in every song Lord has managed to highlight different skills in each of the members of the band. Here is where I think Lord Tim shines on guitar, I particularly enjoyed the outro solos.

Through The Fire - A Rich, fun rocker that will piss your wife off when you can't stop singing it in the shower. The chorus has a great hook and backing vocals. I very much enjoy the rhythm guitar in this piece. There is an awesome solo by Chris Brooks- an extremely talented guitarist, don't miss his other outstanding work via his website at http://www.chrisbrooks.net. Again the outro solo on this song is outstanding.

The Calm - A breather for your ears before the assault and battery of severed limbs. Featuring an awesome blues solo over acoustic guitar. The lead is highly expressive, and does well to show how broadly talented Lord is.

Limb From Limb - This song is my personal favourite on the album. A strange departure since I've never really liked harsh vocals and had no interest in Dungeon's "Traumatised" (one of about 3 songs total from all the Dungeon albums put together that I regularly skip), and now can't get enough of the combination of fast, thrashy riffs and outstanding guitar solos. In particular, the solo lick at 4:22 has to be heard to be believed. LT fans will recognise plenty of his trademark whammy-trills in this one! I play Limb From Limb every morning on the way to work- its a bigger kick in the arse than a double espresso!

220 - Not to be outdone 220 is a tour-de-force instrumental containing blindingly fast harmonised sweep picking with a hilarious twist at the end. I sincerely hope to see Mark Furtner on stage sometime performing this one with the band!! The only thing I can compare this to (at risk of having heavy objects thrown at me) is Dragonforce- but better.

Legacy - To wind up the album is this stadium-quality anthem. Superbly arranged and featuring incredibly powerful drumming from Tim Yatras. Furthermore, the "quiet" solo interlude at 3:42 is not to be missed.

Silent Jealousy - If you've got the Japanese release then you're treated to X Japans "Silent Jealousy" performed by Lord with guest vocalist Hideaki Niwa of Vigilante. Everyone else gets an ear-blasting from the Pantera monster track "Shattered". I have the Japanese release and can say that in keeping with all the covers Dungeon did of some classic metal songs (Queen of the Reich is a personal favourite) Silent Jealousy is performed with flair and the combination of Japanese and English vocals a treat for the huge Japanese following that Dungeon had amassed.

Personally I find it difficult to make the comparisons that others have between music from other bands and the songs on Ascendence. While the band members Lord make no secret of their influences they certainly do a great job of making the styles of artists they might borrow from their own. Thus far the closest I can come is Blind Guardian, but the Ascendence lyrics have a completely different focus and I believe speak to a wider audience.

The mix is astonishing as we have come to expect from Lord Tim. In three weeks the guys put down all the tracks- some featuring seven different layers of guitar along with the aforementioned many layer vocals on "Legacy" and "Same Old Lines". The only criticism I can make is that the bass is mostly buried- it features well in "Rain" and makes an appearance in "My Own Way" but not in most of the other tracks. This may be a result of the loudness war (look it up on wiki).

I'd like to call attention for once to the superb drumming throughout the entire album. Carefully matched to each song and not to be overlooked, if you've ever written songs you'll know what an astounding difference it makes once the drums are in, welding the song together, and if you've ever tried to write metal songs you'll know just how important - and how difficult it is to get a drummer that can perform at this level.

The band acknowledged that while this is the first LORD album to go beyond frontman Lord Tim's original side-project, Ascendence contains some elements of "laying Dungeon to rest". Being the greedy pig that I am, I'm looking forward to the next 100% LORD album. Ascendence is definitely my album of the year.