Album Ascension is a concept album and they have been releasing tracks for the past few days on their fanpage and we didn’t know what’s the story, or how is it starting? I got my hand on the album and had to listen to it for a few days before I put my words down on paper.

‘Ramla’ is the intro, as well as the first track to be released by the band. It’s a short instrumental that mostly gives a few tips about what’s going on in the story. Take a look at all the hints in the video here.

So, what did you understand? Let’s walk this track through before unveiling the whole story:

2nd track in the album is ‘Downfall’ starts with aggressive drum beats and killer riffs, we can’t expect less from a band who worked on this for a decade – maybe over? Although the track starts heavily, it all goes smoothly down with a backing guitar and tranquilizing keyboards from Karim Wassim, and our frontman Ehab Khaled comes in with excellent deep voice – that kinda reminds me of Mikael Akerfeldt and it goes it escalates smoothly again to heavy riffs.

Listening to the music and reading the lyrics, you can’t help but wonder: What is this downfall? Himself? His dreams? His home? Maybe none, maybe all of them.

What also surprises me is Ehab’s smooth vocal shift between clean and growling vocals. The anger really puts you in the mood and gives you a sense of questioning

“Hundreds of years they fought for their land
It was their destiny, triumph or agony
It was a tragedy chanted in rhapsody”

The outro riffs were incredible, but the way it ended, though. It felt like it was cut off or there was nothing more to add. I think you guys could’ve thought of a way better ending!

To be honest, ‘Road to Oblivion’ started a little bit weird for me, and the robotic/automated voice didn’t do it for me – with the lyrics though, maybe they were to add a little devilish effect? The afterlife? The guitar solo is the main highlight of this track, overall, this would be least favorite track. Sorry fellas!

‘Wandering in Wasteland’ It’s funny how it’s short in lyrics and over 11 minutes long. The intro gave me an old jazzy feeling of rock’n’roll, and then it shifted into having some table –which was performed by guest percussionist Ahmed Aly. The tabla really complimented the guitar riffs and gave it a nice oriental metal touch, that was perfectly done without any cheesiness. We’re five minutes in already and no lyrics, but you’re hell enjoying the instrumental part. Our character now, I believe is literally wandering in wasteland, after death, maybe?

Ehab mastered the jazzy New Orleans’ vocal style, which you may think won’t fit. But boy, it did! I’ve never heard any crazy combination like that before, and never I would’ve thought in a thousand years it would match, but this is something else! Everything about this track was a solid 10/10, but minute 10 started, and you lost me. Maybe it was a bit too long? Maybe it’s me and the endings? I don’t know.

‘Of a blessed memory’ I absolutely loved the muffled guitar tunes, as if you’re coming from really far far away. The intro solo – to me – was peaceful and heartfelt. I think they went over the top with this one with the guitars and the bass line. The outro and the ending were a piece of art that you can see.

Some of the lyrics go:

“To receive a crown made of their bones
Watching a sign from above and calling another”

And suddenly everything makes sense. The album cover, the skulls on the bottom, the soul rising to the sky… Soul rising? Rise Above? The upcoming track?

‘Rise Above’ may be their most known by heart from the audience. And I believe the most performed in their every concert. If you have heard this track before, then you’ll know what you’re getting into. If you haven’t, you, my friend are in for one mind-blowing journey! The track starts very melodically and smooth, and almost like a lullaby, it tricks for a little over a minute, then some oriental heavy guitar riffs! And the drumbeats, you guys! We aren’t giving Khaled El Demerdash the credit he deserves. Everything is just on point, onwards. The keys by Karim Wassim starts from 2:30 and is jaw-dropping. Ehab’s voice control is powerful and he makes shifting between clean and growling looks as easy as shifting lanes on a Saturday morning. Even with singing in a foreign language – which may be Latin!

This song is very rich from the lyrics, the riffs, the harmonies in the background, the keys and the magic performed by Karim Wassim. Hands down, best track.

‘Colors’ from what it’s called, it seems more colorful, no more war, no death, just peace, and colors. It starts more peaceful, you can feel green hills and flowers and bright skies. It’s definitely the calmest of all tracks, which is ironic coming after an extremely powerful track such as ‘Rise Above’. But the protagonist rose above, and saw colors, after a life of war, blood and, death. The track overall is a very soothing track with some keys and backing instruments, and it gives you a few minutes to think of the storyline.

At first, I thought, “Only 8 tracks?” But believe me, this is a heavy meal that will keep you occupied for some time. ‘…And the sun rises’ is the final track on the album and is 15 minutes long.

I certainly love this one because it takes me through a wide range of emotions, from calm to aggressive, from kind to powerful. I felt my brain was in a roller-coaster. So, we have 7 tracks, and we’re done with them, and we have this track. It was all great until Ehab’s vocals, I felt it was mixed and produced quickly; the instruments were louder and it was hard to distinguish what the lyrics. It has short lyrics for a 15-minute track, but the music on its own was enough to take you through the whole journey. This is a great example of “music will talk to you”. The bass was very well and heard and I loved this addition. By the very end they added saxophone, and although Youssef Khaled Fawzi is an excellent player, I didn’t think it was a great fit with this music, on this story, or these lyrics.

Overall, I’m impressed and proud of all the effort these guys put into this album. With each track, you can feel the troublesome, the creativity, and the sweat and the sleepless nights they went through. The is some high-quality production and the art cover is from another world.

There isn’t a lot of metal music production in the Middle East, let along Egypt. This is some fine art, and we should proud of them, and supporting them.

You’ll get to see these guys soon in the upcoming Metal Blast, and get their album after October 1st.

NJ Bakr.

 

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