I grew up on bands such as Marillion, Pallas, and Pendragon. They were very British bands, working in the Progressive Rock arena; almost like a New Wave of British Prog Rock, following in the huge footsteps of bands like Yes and Genesis. Nth Ascension remind me very much of those bands and that is so welcome! They have a sound that echoes back to the early Eighties but has a brand all of its own. Where Marillion has taken away their fire and stepped into an early coma of comfortable blandness, these guys have brought back some bite and rock to the genre.
I came to this release with no preconceptions, but am so impressed by the way in which the whole album stretches and pushes the listener to care about the art that is being created, the stories that are being told and the passion of the players – way to go!
In Fine Initium opens with the brooding “Kingdom Keys“, which is 15 minutes of dense guitars, Moog synthesizer, and Alan “Spud” Taylor breathing out vocals that meld passion and pathos into an absorbing mix. The music is memorable with its “shout it out” refrain and the guitar work is outstanding. It transported me back to 1984 when I first discovered Marillion et al…I close my eyes and it seems as if my youth is restored! This is the power of music people.
The whole album stretches out over a huge canvas of sound, covering the spectrum from chunky rock to delicate instrumentals. The two cornerstones of the collection are the haunting lilt of Taylor and the amazingly emotive guitar work of Martin Walker. Taylor reminds me of ex-Pallas singer Alan Reed and Walker hints at Steve Rothery (Marillion) in the tone and fluency of his fretwork.
Songs such as “The Cage” and “Forever” take the listener on inspired journeys of imagination, shelling the soul with blissful tones.
It is not an easy album to dive into but repeated listens unlocks the wonders of music that will challenge and enthrall. In today’s manic pace of restless unease, this set of tunes demands attention and rewards with esoteric excellence.