ASKA - Absolute Power 4.5/5
by Craig Wisnom at metalcdratings.com
The 5th CD from this Texas metal powerhouse is 7 years removed from their last CD 'Avenger', which was by far their best work at that time. Well ASKA's back with a new CD which is fully worthy of that promising legacy. This is a band that does not produce a style of power metal designed to tick off bullet points paying tribute to classic metal, nor to aspire to some more current notion of power metal sensibility. Instead, what they succeed in doing is capturing the FEEL, the immediate engagement, of the classic Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Manowar, and Saxon in their songs. The closest comparison lately is the more recent Iron Maiden CDs (although this is far, far more succinct), when I listen to those and think, “Why don’t more of the great metal bands today, in the style I love, instantly evoke this connection with the music that makes it soooo easy to listen to.”
So, don’t expect an overly pious homage to metal past, nor a Dragonforce display of extreme histrionics, just great metal music that captures the spirit of 80s metal with an enthralling fresh feel.
The CD opens expectantly with “Longships”, an epic track that unexpectedly starts dealing with modern woe and angst, and (like Blind Guardian’s 'Imaginations from the other side' does with fantasy images) pines for an idealized past of majesty and simple honor against the grey complexities of pain in a modern world. The music introduces you to what you’ll feel on the CD; George Call’s unique vocals that don’t quite ape any of the metal classic singers, but find a strong, unique middle ground between, and don’t show any ill effects of some throat surgery that contributed to the long time between CDs. While his vocals may not sound exactly like Bruce Dickinson, they also capture some of the same enthralling level of passion that Bruce still is pulling out on the recent Iron Maiden CDs.
“Legion” kicks in with a high-powered dose of Rome-centric historical lyrics, which, along with “Freedom” provide the most detailed lyrics on the CD, where a lot of the rest shoots for emotional imagery. There are more songs on here about emotional aspects of “relationships” than we expect on the typical metal CD, especially after the more fantasy aimed 'Avenger', but they still work well with the other lyrics, with a sense of maturity and a different approach each time they come up.
Keith Knight’s bass, both dynamic and nicely present in the mix, like Iron Maiden, Overkill, and Manowar, contributes greatly to the moving energetic “call” of the music, while the guitar work from Daryl Norton and George Call serves up a sublime platter of melodic dual leads and riffs that will delight people who’s soul surges for 'Defenders of the Faith', 'Powerslave', or 'Power and the Glory'. Jason Sweatt provides a strong backdrop with the drums behind all of the tracks. It all comes together without extraneous or overly indulgent displays, while still letting the band display their chops, like the massive ending to “Message from God”
As an attorney, I must at least disclose my bias in voir dire that singer and guitarist George Call has long been a metal pen pal of mine, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling in my heart this is an awesome CD that will truly call to the heart of those who love classic heavy metal in that purest form.
On 'Absolute Power', you’re not going to hear a U.S. band trying to outspeed Dragonforce, nor are you going to hear someone trying to carve out dark, technical U.S. metal like New Eden, Destiny’s End or Helstar. What you will hear is something that at its core appeals to that most basic passion you first heard off of a 80's metal classic.
METAL TO INFINITY
By Rico Descendre
Aska stole my heart and my soul with their previous album ''Avenger''. The outstanding musicianship, the unique voice of George 'ASKA' Call, the perfect balance between power and melody, the overwhelming and mind blowing songs, the superb solos, all were good enough to make ASKA one of my favorite bands. With songs like 'Crown Of Thorns', 'Escape Victorious' and 'Angels Of War' I had no trouble convincing other Metal Heads that ASKA is not only a top band but also a band that should receive the maximum respect. ASKA could easily be a mainstream band, unfortunately, there's the lack of support for these kinds of band so the underground webzines have a duty to support the band!
Although you can hear familiar elements in their music, ASKA have created their own sound (thanks to the songs and once again, the unique vocals). The reason the vocals are 'one of a kind' is the clarity, the melancholic touch and the timbre which makes it so easy to recognize ASKA as a band. Some of George's high screams gives me cold shivers (goose bumps)! Superior! Mix Traditional Metal like Saxon with some US Metal in the vein of Leatherwolf or Fates Warning and you will discover ASKA's sound.
Its been a long wait, but finally the new album, "Absolute Power" is released. Once again I'm becoming re-addicted to ASKA's music, 'Legion' and 'Her Ghost Remains' are mandatory listening for everybody! Mixing plenty of power with a lot of melody, the songs keep on hammering in your head. Oh how I would like to see these guys live onstage. I can only hope that some German festival organizers will contact them (again!).
My final list of ''Best Albums of 2007'' was closed too early because ASKA deserves a place at the top of it. If you have the chance to buy this piece of gold; don't hesitate. Check them at www.askaband.com or /www.myspace.com/askaband My points: 100/100
METAL TO INFINITY
by Stefan Sighelm
Aska's prodecessor "Avenger" saw the break of dawn back in 2000 through EMA records...it was a release written on the bodies of all those into US Power Metal! Yeah, i always had a great feeling about the music Aska brought to the world of Metal. As usual playing their own style, 5 albums can be added to their release list so far. One by one, awesome stuff...excellent food for US Metal maniacs. Concerning their latest output 'Absolute Power"...
Beside changing of record company also guitar player Darren Knapp is replaced by a new shredder named Daryl Norton...the rest of the line-up remained untouched and that's a good point to me. I can't imagine a band like aska without the legendary, memorable and melancholic voice of George Call, the incredible bass works and backing vox of Keith Knight...i will not forgot to mention the man behind the drumkit, Jason Sweatt because he also means a lot to keep the vicious circle of Aska intact.
As mentioned before, ther'es a duration of seven years between Aska's "Avenger" and this new album "Absolute Power"...i don't know why but i'll do an interview with mainman George Call and ask him about it so feel free to keep an eye on our interview section the next couple of days or weeks. To be honest, i feared the most terrible for the future existence of Aska but the opposite has been proved guys...these Americans' new baby is born and the wait was more than worth because this album sounds outstanding. Damn sure this is excellent US Power Metal!
Brought out as beautiful looking digipack, the aska guys are still reigning supreme in the world of US Metal. The many pages counting booklet includes great pictures of each one of the members plus live / backstage images, lyrics, awesome art painting in the middle...as for the lay-out, packaging and stuff like that...everything looks adorable and then i've not yet spoken concerning the songs.
Well, there are 10 songs added to the track listing and believe me or not...there is no song to announced which dissapoints me! Perhaps they could use less intro's here and there but that's a minor point to complain. The advancement of the songs is superb. Just like a house that is built brick by brick...Aska is able to do it step by step, riff after riff / solo after solo /...you know what i mean, don't ya?! George Call's voice and guitar duties once again prevails...damn, he's really one of a kind just like the rest of the Aska camp actually. Bonded by Metal, their friend / musicianship is solid as a rock or an unbreakable chain of steel.
Ears open with full of admiration for the first 5 songs of the album entitled: 'Longships', 'Legion', 'Her Ghost Remains', 'Until Death Do Us Part' and 'Vowbreaker'...after all these beauties, i needed a break to obtain a bit. The remaining and other half of the CD goes further such as the first part has stopped...in a superior, awesome US Metal way. Stunning power, balanced harmonies loaded with burning emotions and melanchoy...damn right, this is my cup of tea! US Metal lives at Metal To Infinity homepage, it's one of our favourite styles...we're hooked on it since a very long time (read early 80s) and shall forever be that way. We won't give up something we carry on since all those years!
Back to ASKA's new album: I can surley recommend "Absolute Power'' to maniacs those heart and soul longing for US Metal, brought the way it should be! Aska has again succeeded to conquer my heart and inner soul with ths wonderful article of pure glowing steel. Good advise if you're not familiar with them so far, found out who they are and convince yourself how good they really are.
www.askaband.com or www.myspace.com/askaband
MY POINTS (Stefan): 95 / 100
Reviewed by : Mark Gromen
Rating : 8.0
ASKA - Absolute Power
Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles
Those of us in this industry (however perfunctory) for any period of time can get jaded, seemingly unimpressed by an endless string of releases from new faces, and often returning to old standbys. However, once in a great while a band/album/performance comes along, knocks us on our ass, impressing the Hell out of us and recalling why we got involved with the music in the first place. Such was the case recently with south Texas veterans Aska. In existence for nearly two decades, issuing five full-lengths and gigging in 37 countries around the globe, the outfit remains an enigma. George Call (guitar/vocals) currently fronts the better known Omen, but the Aska live show and hook-laden, quality material made me a believer instantly. Somewhere between Iced Earth and the holy German triumvirate of Accept/Grave Digger/Running Wild, at least on stage (via leather and synchronized stage moves) Aska is a headbanger’s delight. On this CD, the band use grandiose stylized intros (rather than just launch into the crunch), be it the Braveheart clip to start the atypical Celtic-flavoured ‘Warrior Poets’ or the Middle Eastern rhythms of instrumental ‘Martyrer’, which proceeds into the prayers to Mecca of ‘Freedom’. Lyrics, as usual, reflect a historical bent, with the Vikings (‘Longships’) or ancient Rome (‘Legions), plus failed relationships (‘Her Ghost Remains’, ‘Until Death Do Us Part’ and ‘Vowbreaker’). While the record can’t fully translate the band’s onstage energy, the Texans will venture to Germany for the Keep It True festival in April. Check out www.askband.com before reading about them in overseas mags or foreign internet sites.
Aska - Absolute Power - Vanadium Records - 2007 [ CD ]
Review by: Asgardlord of The Forgotten Scroll
Lineup: George Call - Guitar, Vocals ,
Keith Knight - Bass, Vocals,
Jason Sweatt - Drums,
Daryl Norton - Guitars, Vocals
Absolute Power is the fourth album of u.s. metalers Aska, but my first contact with the band. And a mighty impressive one at that!
Aska are the embodiment of all that is holy in U.S. power metal : Killer riffs, bombastic rhythm parts, and great vocals by George Call who has a powerful voice both in mid and high range octaves. The compositions have a strong personal character, both in terms of songwriting with some fairly original riffs and song structure, as well as some touches like the arab chanting tidbits in "Freedom". Most of the songs follow mid tempo paterns, and there are truly some gems in here like the phenomenal "Longships", or "Her Ghost remains". To be honest, there is really no dull moment in this album, not even a mediocre one! A point must also be made about the very poetic and powerful lyrics, expertly written both on the "warrior" songs, as well as the more personal ones. You seldom come by words of this quality anymore, well done!
In my humble opinion, Aska have delivered last year's top power metal moment along with Cage's "Hell Destroyer". Fans of bands like mid era Jag Panzer, get this asap!
Asgardlord of The Forgotten Scroll
Reviewed by : Raskal
Rating : 18/20
Aska - Absolute Power
The U.S. group has existed since 1990 and only began to talk about him since their 2000 album, Avenger (since the first edition of the Italian label STEELHEART in 2002).
Previously know that the band released between 1994 and 1997 three albums and an EP! I had and Avenger is true, it is a superb album of Heavy Metal that I recommend. But this Absolute Power (group purchased KEEP IT TRUE 12) is still a ton above!
If you are a jaded fan of IRON MAIDEN, buy this album soon inspired at all levels and effective! Titles, Longships, Legion, Her Ghost Remains, Message From God, Freedom, Invasion are real hits! The music is grandiose in the simple and efficient! ASKA does not hesitate to incorporate key "current" in its traditional Heavy Métal (throw an ear on the excellent use of keyboards on Her Ghost Remains, the title of almost seven minutes!). The spirit of the old ICED EARTH is not far either on certain securities.
Song of Georges CALL ( OMENalso singer) is really good both on disk and on stage! The band's performance at the last KEEP IT TRUE has been excellent in the opinion of all!
Style: Heavy Métal
Art Party: 3 / 5
Interest in 80’s Heavy Metalfans: 5 / 5
Interest in traditional metal fans in general: 5 / 5
RASKAL The French Warrior : 19/20
Reviewed by : Mario van Dooren
Rating : 93/100
ASKA - Absolute Power
October listing @ www.mariosmetalmania.com
Running time: 48:38 (Tracks: 10)
ASKA is born during the nascent alternative/grunge movement of the early 90's and eschews the popular fad in favor of playing metal music…their way. Metal Gods, both past and present, find worthy brothers-in-arms in ASKA. Their ways have not been forgotten but are indeed carried on with pride by this Dallas based construct of metal passion and fury. This is just a small part of their long biography.
This is the bands 5th release and shame on me; my first acquaintance with these US power metallers! I've seen the band last April at the Keep it True festival in Germany and they blew me away! The only thing I heard before of this band was the fact that there singer is also the new singer of US-power metallers Omen these days (see my Omen review this month @ the Swordbrothers festival)….. Because I was never a big fan of Omen's music I wasn't really interested in listening to the bands music. Still I have the drift to check out every band at any festival because im always in for surprises for this kind of bands. I discovered a lot of great bands during all these years by following my biggest passion; listening to every kind of metal. Luckily after the KIT show the band gave me their latest release (2007 originally) to review for MMM
The band makes real powermetal in a way I like it most; technical US powermetal with excellent vocals! The band does not have any musical link with Omen (luckily) but can be compared with bands like; Jacob's Dream, Riot, Sacred Oath, Savatage, Liege Lord and I hear a lot of Iron Maiden elements back in their music. The songs vary from uptempo to ballads but all performed very well. Singer George Call has a remarkable voice and a very wide range; excellent! This is a great album filled with metal evergreens and the band should be checked out by everybody that likes technical powermetal in a way only US-musicians can arrange it! Awesome album!
Neues Review von Holger Andrae
Aska - Absolute Power
Unkorrigierte und noch nicht freigegebene Fassung - die endgültige Version gibt's später hier:http://www.powermetal.de/review/review-12874.html
Ich muss es gestehen: Die amerikanische Band ASKA sagte mir bis vor kurzer Zeit auch nur namentlich etwas. Erst als ich ihren Sänger George Call beim zehnten Keep-It-True-Festival als Frontmann der Kultband OMEN genießen durfte, wurde mir klar, dass ich diese Band dringend antesten muss. Praktischerweise rauschte kurze Zeit später ihr bere its fünfter Longplayer namens "Absolut Power" in meine Wohnstube, so dass ich schnellstens prüfen konnte, ob denn neben dem grandiosen Gesang auch die musikalische Seite von ASKA so brillant ist, wie es der Gesang bereits erhoffen ließ.
Bereits der 'Longships' entfacht bei mir eine absoluten Begeisterungssturm, denn ASKA verstehen es sofort den Hörer mitzureißen. Der Albumtitel ist programmatisch, denn die Gitarrenwände von Jason Sweatt und eben George Call erinnern unwillkürlich an die Macht der frühen SAVATAGE-Werke. Melodisch und doch zugleich unglaublich treibend krachen uns hier in jeder Nummer mächtig fette Riffs entgegen, die auch auf jeder METAL CHURCH-Scheibe stehen könnten. Darüber liegen Melodien, die unaufdringlich aber zwingend klingen. Alle Songs zementieren sich so bereits nach sehr kurzer Zeit in den Gehörgängen fest und verstopfen diese für einen langen Zeitraum.
Dabei kommt natürlich die raue, aber gleichermaßen kräftige Stimme von George, der genau so auch bei DIO oder SYMPHONY X eine grandiose Figur abgeben würde, besonders gut zum Ausdruck. Von spitzen Schreien lässt er komplett die Lunge, so dass auch in diesem Punkt Entwarnung gegeben kann. Und das, obwohl ASKA schon sehr traditionell zu Werke gehen, was die oben genannten Parallelen sicher schon erahnen ließen.
Trotzdem kann ich die Band auch jedem ans Herz legen, der nicht nur auf die ganz alte Garde steht. ASKA gelingt nämlich der Spagat zu modernen Klängen, ohne sich dabei irgendeinem Trend anbiedern zu müssen. Gute Musik ist eben zeitlos.
Die relativ langen Kompositionen bewegen sich dabei vorwiegend im stampfenden Midtempo-Bereich, brechen allerdings gelegentlich auch mal in flottere Gefilde aus. Sehr fein nachzuhören im grandiosen 'Freedom', welches vom kurzen Instrumental 'Martyrer' schön eingeleitet wird und insgesamt eines der vielen Highlights von "Absolute Power" darstellt. Wem das zu heftig ist, der sollte unbedingt das düstere 'Legion' oder das epische 'Vowbreaker' anhören. Es wird nicht bei einem Durchlauf bleiben. Sucht-Garantie!
Als besonderes Schmankerli gibt es als Rausschmeißer mit 'Warrior Poets' eine lupenrein Hommage an THIN LIZZY. Folkloristische Gitarrenläufe zum niederknien.
Bevor ich euch jetzt noch weitere Ewigkeiten mit meinem blümeranten Gesülze umgarne, gebt jetzt die Adresse der Bandhomepage ein und ... let the metal flow!
Ordern könnt ihr das Teil bequem bei Hellion Records.
Anspieltipps: Legion; Vowbreaker; Freedom, Invasion; Longships; Warriors Poets