Ashen Reach – Homecoming
Release Date: 16/11/2020
Running Time: 56:17
Review by Beth Jones
Liverpool based Ashen Reach have been a firm favourite with us here at ever metal since discovering them in their previous guise at a Twisted Illusion gig in Manchester. Recently, they’ve had some ups and downs. The dizzy heights of playing to vast audiences in Russia, to the disruption of a line-up change. Considering their young age, they’ve shown a lot of balls to stand up to the challenge, and now they’re a solid 5 piece again, the time has come to unleash their debut album, “Homecoming” into the world of hard rock. This has pleased us a lot here at EMHQ, because they’re a super talented bunch of musicians who have been working their asses off for the last couple of years.
“Homecoming” is an album that explores many current themes, from mental health and domestic abuse, to love and determination. Their unique sound does this in a way that sets each song apart from the next, and explores mood through the dynamics of music.
The album kicks off with ‘Fighting For My Life’ – a riff heavy, chunky, classic hard rock track, which really gets your foot tapping. The powerful vocals of Kyle Martyn Stanley cut through over the top of thumping riffs and drums, and we get treated to a guitar solo towards the end of the song, which is rich and full in terms of tone, making this a great start to the album.
The next two tracks, ‘Epiphany’, and ‘Tear It Down’ follow the same style, providing a very upbeat first ten minutes of the album. Then things take a turn for the heavier with, ‘Heir to The Throne’. It starts with drums and guitar, similar to the sounds we’ve already heard. But this then gets joined by some down-tuned bass and builds into an expansive chorus that wouldn’t be out of place in a symphonic metal band. We also get a middle section with some screams and growls thrown into the mix, at a low enough level to make them not too intrusive, but enough to give this song a distinctly heavier edge. Kyle also has more of a rasp in his vocals throughout this song.
‘Alive Again’ and ‘Prey’ continue with the slightly heavier sound, but also add in some progressive exploration, with more experimental sections. The use of reverb in these adds a haunting and lilting feel to the acoustics. This provides a great contrast between the full on, in your face, and the more stripped back elements. I really like the opening to ‘Prey’ – Kyle’s unusual vocals work really well for the quiet elements, as he has an interesting tone, and is still able to deliver a powerful sound at a softer dynamic. This track builds throughout, to a crescendo of sound towards the end, giving the sense that the ‘prey’ has been trapped.
An element of calm is then thrown into the mix, with a Pink Floyd-esque soundscape in the form of ‘Ether’. Gentle guitar and synth effects float for around a minute and a half, creating a beautiful and peaceful serenity. Like sitting in a summer meadow, watching the pollen and insects float on the warm breeze.
‘Here I Go’, continues this theme, but with the addition of some lovely vocal harmonies. Then it bursts into a full-on progressive rock ballad, complete with cross rhythm sections, epic soloing, and plenty of moments where, in the good old days, any crowd would have been stood with lighters aloft creating a twinkling sea of swaying fire! I think this is one of my favourite tracks on the album actually.
Then we get to the business end of the album. The final three tracks, ‘Hole In The Sky’, ‘Broken Column’, and the title track ‘Homecoming’, really make this album for me. They feel like a bit of a level-up. They’re intricately put together, with interesting rhythms, brilliant vocals and harmonies, and real power. I also feel that the balance of sound in these final tracks has really had attention paid to it. At some points earlier in the album, there are times when I think things are too mid- heavy. The guitar riffs almost take over and obscure the rest of the sound. But here, it’s much easier to pick out individual sounds. These three tracks also have an insatiable groove to them, which really connects you to the sound. I would still like a little more bass and drums in the mix for ‘Broken Columns’ and ‘Homecoming’ though. I think that would have really helped drive the tracks. But then I’m a sucker for bass heavy stuff, so this is, off course, purely my opinion!
All in all, this is a very solid and accomplished debut album, from a very exciting young band, who I believe have a whole ton more to give. And it is well worth investing 56 minutes of your time to listen to it!
01. Fighting For My Life
03. Tear It Down
04. Heir To The Throne
05. Alive Again
08. Here I Go
09. Hole In the Sky
Kyle Martyn Stanley – Vocals
Paddy Cummins – Lead Guitar/ Backing Vocals
Joe O’Sullivan – Rhythm Guitar
Mike McCarroll – Bass/ Backing Vocals
Jess Stanley – Drums
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