Ascension Theory - Regeneration


Year of Release: 2002
Label: Independent
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 45:53:00

Regeneration may be a debut album but primary writer and lyricist Tim Becker should not be a new name to our minds. Nor should the name of singer and lead guitarist Leon Ozug either. If anyone remembers a band called Aztec Jade, Tim was the guy who played keyboards and Leon was the guy who sang, but what makes Ascension Theory's first release extremely special is that it's not Aztec Jade part 2; instead, it is a totally pristine and provoking musical and conceptual experience that deserves as much exposure and attention as some of the new releases under the "big" progressive metal labels.

I actually first heard this band's music on mp3.com just searching around one day, which shows you that mp3s can actually help a band get noticed. When I first obtained the CD in the mail, the cover struck me automatically with its contrast of colours and the planet looming overhead; it really fits the lyrical concept, one that centres on space, survival and compassion. Now I thought that you would want to know more about the lyrics, so I decided to quote from the site itself: "Two interstellar civilizations are locked in a perpetual war. A veteran soldier from one side dreams of building a new colony, one far enough away from the fighting to live in peace. On his first attempt, he is dealt a devastating blow. His fleet is ambushed by the enemy and forced to crash on a desolate moon. There, he encounters a hospitable but previously unknown race of beings who are on the verge of fulfilling a dream of their own. With their help, he must find a way to revive the sleeping colonists, and overcome the despair and guilt of his failure."

As for the music, the songs speak for themselves. There is a great mix of atmosphere, melody, cinematic construction, and timely solos. This is keyboard oriented progressive metal, and Becker provides a well executed balance of shredding, spacey sounds, classical touches, harmonies, and even a few Star Wars styled compositions (especially on the title track). Some of the songs, like "speaker", have an elevated approach to them, a certain catchiness that is similar to that of Royal Hunt, particularly on several choruses. Due to some of the solos, there can be a slight Dream Theater comparison, but another band that comes to mind when I hear this disc is Cairo, another keyboard driven band. Still, Regeneration has its own flair, its own style, and its own sound that I hope they will experiment more with on future discs.

The guitar work on the album is not meant to remind you of John Petrucci, but it is meant to compliment the keyboards, and Ozug does a very good job of that. He is not extremely noisy and some of the riffs are pretty darn cool, two pluses in my book. On "Pieces", for example, there is a wonderful guitar-keys-guitar-keys transition that fits in smoothly and is amazing to hear. Ozug's singing is also done very well, several notches above his prior work in Aztec Jade in my opinion. With a lot of poor singing in the genre nowadays, it's an exceedingly positive sign to hear a voice like the one on this CD. Only one song, the female fronted "Lovers (I'll Wait For You)", is a bit sub-par, mainly a bit boring, but not bad by any means, and it is both short and right for the concept (we see this on many discs in the progressive category (Shadow Gallery, Mind's Eye).

With songs like the 8-minute title track, the always enjoyable "Eridani," the excellent coordinated "Warriors," the dark and aggressive "Enemies," and the amazing "Pieces," Regeneration is hit, and for seven dollars, a very high-quality purchase.

[This review originally appeared November 2002 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]
Tracklisting:
I Warriors (5:29) / II Sleeper (One Flies Away) (5:00) / III Eridani (5:41) / IV Speaker (6:50) / IV Lovers (I'll Wait For You) (3:40) / VI Pieces (5:37) / VII Enemies (4:37) / VIII Reflections (1:34) / IX Regeneration (8:20)

Musicians:
Tim Becker - keyboards, all instruments
Leon Ozug - vocals, guitars

Discography:
Regeneration (2002)
Answers (2006)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: November 26th 2004
Reviewer: Shawn "Zero Hour" Lakhani
Score:
Artist website: www.ascensiontheory.com
Hits: 1422
Language: english

  

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