I was so excited to see Ashes of Ares, the new band of ex-Iced Earth singer, Matt Barlow, ex-Iced Earth bassist, Freddie Vidales, and ex-Nevermore drummer, Van Williams at this year’s Hard Rock festival. Just as their live performance, about half a year ago, also their self-titled debut didn’t exactly knock my socks off. Alright, the album is not a total failure, there are some good tracks on it, but if you step back and take a look at it as a whole piece of art, you see quite a lot of average stuff – and that from one of the best metal singers of our time, it’s really disappointing.
The first track, "The messenger", starts rather high-class and would, in that form, also fit onto any Iced Earth album, it would even be something like a Iced Earth gem. "Move the chains" is cut from the same cloth, then follows “On Warrior’s Wings”, an American-patriotic half ballad that no one needs at all. The same is true for “Punishment” – if Matt Barlow wouldn’t sing this song, it would be a musical disaster. “This is Hell” isn’t really any better – it’s a relatively dull power ballad. With “Dead Man’s Plight” and “Chalice of One”, the performance curve is pointing upwards again. Presumably, “The Answer” was written with some radio airplay in mind, it’s insignificant enough for that and also the rest of the album leaves me rather unimpressed.
Musically, Ashes of Are play solid power metal, unfortunately, they forgot to recruit a good song writer who could’ve tied all loose ends and leave a recognisable mark on the song material. Too bad, really!