Ashrain – Requiem Reloaded (Metalville)Friday, 14th April 2023
How many times have you heard this story before: virtuoso guitarist assembles skilled musicians to execute a killer brand of melodic power metal, intertwining progressive and 80’s hard rock influences? That’s the case here for Ashrain on their debut album Requiem Reloaded. Japanese guitarist Nozomu Wakai began recording this material with bassist Peter Baltes (ex-Accept), filling out the quartet with vocalist Iuri Sanson (ex-Hibria) and drummer Andy C (ex-Lords of Black). In the can for a while as the landscape appeared brighter for new records to get proper push post-pandemic, this is a strong contender for newcomer of the year – as the natural abilities within each player beyond solid songwriting acumen ensures a thoroughly enjoyable top to bottom listening experience.
The main neoclassical/European-styled riffs lay the foundation for the killer rhythm section backbone as Iuri navigates expertly in all low to eagle high registers – establishing “Requiem for Screamer” and “Still Burn” as standouts to garner praise for all ardent power metal mavens. The diversity of textures allows for dynamic movements – “Symphony of Despair” the longest track at 7:32 where Nozomu unleashes a bevy of melodic/shred runs as the cinematic/keyboard movements heighten the subsequent twists and turns, while the follow-up “Believe” is a power tour de force, unleashing thoughts of Yngwie, Ozzy, and Dokken colliding into this energetic barnburner. The thick, bottom end chug of Peter Baltes gets spotlight attention in the intro and concluding sections of first single “Put on the Trigger”, while stellar double kick/fill work out of Andy C makes the finale “We Fight to Win” a fitting conclusion where you just want to scream, shout, and let the fists fly for more. Beyond the old school influences, these players also showcase some more of their progressive chops in spots – Dream Theater-esque within the intricate interplay / transitions for the up-tempo charging “Break Through the Fire” as one clear example that could be explored more on future records.
The sky is the limit for Ashrain – talent undisputable, comfort levels established, now it’s only a question of pushing the creative boundaries within a platform that this four-piece can professionally execute. Requiem Reloaded is ideal for those who love classic power metal (Thundersteel-era Riot for one) that speaks to the undeniable quest in strength, unity, and might.