(8/10) 2018 seems to be a busy year for former Iced Earth frontman Matt Barlow. The singer teamed up with composer Jonah Weingarten and the duo released a self-titled album a few months ago. After such a cinematic and soundtrack-like release Barlow returns with Ashes To Ares.
Next to Barlow, it was Freddie Vidales and Van Williams that have been the core of the band. Ashes To Ares debuted with a powerful metal album in 2013. The longplayer created some excitement and it felt good to see Barlow back in the saddle.
After such a promising start things cooled down and I almost lost the band of my radar. Beginning of 2017 the news of Van Williams leaving the band was spread and a bit more than a year later it is the sophomore album ‘Well of Souls’ that’s supposed to pick things up where the band left in 2013 and the album does so.
‘Well of Souls’ features 12 new metal songs that provide the listener with almost 60 minutes of driving metal. Bands like Iced Earth, Nevermore and Sanctuary can still be mentioned as references.
The album starts ‘Consuming the Mana’. After a cinematic intro kick-off things, it’s a mighty riff and Barlow’s scream that starts the metal experience on this release. The song is pretty much straight-forward and addresses a tale of ancient Hawaiian warrior culture.
‘Unworthy’ darkens the soul. Ashes To Ares lowers the tempo in the beginning before the song evolves to a riff monster. The following ‘Soul Searcher’ comes with reduced heaviness. The half-acoustic songs represent the soulful side of this release, something that immediately changes again with ‘Sun Dragon’. The galloping beat of this song reminds of the best we know from bands like Iced Earth. This tune is a strong statement and is one of the best moments on this great album.
A song you might know already is the bonus track of the album. ‘You Know My Name’ is the main theme of the ‘Casino Royal’ – James Bond movie. Ashes Of Ares re-arranged the tune and added some additional metallic firepower to the Chris Cornell song. The cinematic stays and it’s Barlow’s high-pitch screams and Vidales’ guitar that adds to extra metal power.
‘Well of Souls’ is the highly anticipated second studio album of Ashes Of Ares and it’s another win for the band. Five years after the successful debut the guys continue their journey on metal with a terrific next strike. Good stuff with a tendency towards nine points.
- Consuming the Mana
- The Alien
- Soul Searcher
- Sun Dragon
- Let All Despair
- In the Darkness
- Spirit of Man
- Time Traveler
- The God of War
- You Know My Name (Chris Cornell cover)
Genre: Melodic Power Metal
Release Date EU: November 9th, 2018