Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ashen Reign ~ An Angel's Burden

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Style: heavy metal, power metal
Label: Ashen Reign Productions
Year: 2011

Home: Atlanta, Georgia

Members: Brent McDaniel ~ all instruments

When listening to one man, studio-bound & self-produced band there's a tendency to want to play the producer & make suggestions. Getting the producer card out of the way I'll step out on the soapbox & say ... I get tired of rhyming in songs. A little bit is good but every poet will tell you: 1) rhyming can create an internal rhythm that can work against the piece, 2) rhyming pattern push word choices that might not be the strongest, 3) occasional non-rhymed lines or a breaking of the pattern can do wonders. "The wolves gather round, Like a pack of bloodhounds, Tracking you down, Like the speed of sound" from the opener "The Feast" or "To save Heaven he threw in the abyss, He sealed Satan's fate with a kiss, Our Angel he could not miss" from the title track "An Angel's Burden" drives me crazy. It's got an internal sway that works against the song while the word choice tempers the emotional impact. Sadly, the second release by power metal outing Ashen Reign, or Brent McDaniel, is full of this amongst its seven songs. There are a few songs that lessen the repetition with dangling ends but generally a rhyming chorus & rhyming verse, with both often being a similar amount of lines, & a unique soft singing approach that's lazy & laid-back in feel, versus typical metal aggressive, means the lyrics don't stand out like they should. Other reviewers have routinely commented on the lack of vocal punch ... yes, it's probably some of the more soft singing you'll hear behind power metal, but it definetly catches the ear ... & the low production quality ... though I believe even the worst music will shine through bad production & there's a lot of legendary bands who were never recorded well ... but for me the lyrical repetition is the weakest point along with the longer than usual choruses, eight lines in every song kill the verse/chorus dynamic. Though, not wanting to be a complete bad guy, I will give McDaniel credit for his interesting use of images from the big bad wolf, the fall of an angel who turns against God & then Lucifer, sparrows & snakes, setting & morning suns, encircling shooting stars, walking the ring of fire along with very visual representations of dying & moving. To step off the producer's soapbox, or gauntlet, Ashen Reign is a somber metal outing of riffing guitars & some keyboard effects. The riffs are heavily melodic, not very much of the prog end of melodic metal but with songs ranging from five to seven minutes there is some prog elements in the arrangements particularly in the lengthy "A Prayer For The Dying", with solos thrown in for good measure when needed but not overburdening the songs. McDaniel doesn't lack guitar playing ability & I should also mention the playful guitar lines in the stand-out "Hope", which also has some of the best lyrical rhyming patterns interestingly built around the dangling words of "late" & "fate", while "Broken Heart" has some lovely long weaving lines in the solos. He lets his guitar shine on the closing instrumental "The Sparrow" which I'll agree with other critics ends up being a welcome addition.

(No music video available.)

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