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On disc: Aspera

Ripples - Claudia Ehrhardt - 8 stars


(InsideOut Music - 2010)

Aspera is a young Norwegian band - all members were born in late 1989 - and the youngsters started the band Illusion while being in school. After 3 demos they changed the name and now present their debut album Ripples.
An instrumental intro leads you into Ripples, the title track is a melodic progressive metal tune with a catchy vocal line. Party heavy riffs and pounding drums dominate the song, but there are also keyboard-laden passages. Actually the title track gives a good first impression about what to expect from this young Norwegian band. At Do I Dare? you has a dash of 80's metal combined with progressive sounds and some art rock elements. At Remorse the keyboard of Nickolas Main Henriksen creates soundscapes which are combined with Atle Pettersen's vocals take you onto a journey where you can discover different shades of progressive sounds. At Between Black & White you'll hear reminiscences to 70's heavy rock and 80's heavy metal, but the 8+ minutes long track has a lot to offer! One of my favorites is Torn Apart which hooked me up with it's great vocal line. The dark, slightly raspy voice of Atle Pettersen is expressive and fits perfect. With tribal-like drumming and heavy riffs they open up Traces Inside. Musically this one reminds me a bit of old Lions Share, but due to the different vocal style it sounds much heavier. Acoustic guitar leads you into Reflections, then the keyboard takes over and the vocals join in. A ballad stripped down to the essentials. The closer The Purpose brings back the progressive sounds with complex parts, heavy riffs and catchy backing vocals.
Resume: Ripples is a very strong debut of a bunch of very talented young musicians and is interesting for fans of Pagan's Mind, Circus Maximus, Symphony X and other melodic progressive metal bands. Okay, the guys haven't found their own identity yet, but I think that's just a matter of time! Check out Aspera! And keep an eye on them!

8 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt


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