[star rating=”8″ max=”10″]
“The Lion & the Jester” is the debut album from Toronto symphonic metal quintet Ascendia. Canada isn’t renowned as a hotbed for symphonic metal, but the confluence of European and American influences (both musically and geographically) gives the band a crossover appeal that should find favour both with fans of traditional and symphonic metal. But more importantly, it’ll probably still appeal to fans who can’t stand this genre of metal.
One could compare their sound to Florida’s Kamelot, but they’re no copycat. Ascendia blends in multiple influences to create their own identity within the symphonic metal genre. And it sounds ridiculously good too! The production is sharp, the playing is tight, and Nick Sakal’s vocals are spectacular. This sort of music lives and dies with its singer, but you can’t help be impressed by his voice. Instrumentally, the band is led by the brothers Luv, John (guitar) and Billy (drums), and they strike a fine balance between technical complexity and chugging riffing. The production is super clean and sharp, which allows the listener to pay attention to all the instrumental details in the music.
The album has 11 tracks (plus Starlit Eyes, their first composition, as a bonus track), and no filler. An impressive debut from a band I’m sure we’ll hear more from.