Hot off the Press

Ascendia | The Lion and the Jester

by Franco Cerchiari
– Columnist —

cd coverFans of Ride The Sky, Psychework, Nocturnal Rites, Armory, Masterplan, the excellent Silverlane and Sky of Rage are going to want to jump all over this one, for this is one damn fine slice of Power Metal. Determined to show the listener that the music offered is far more than a just a way to showcase musical talent, what the boys of Ascendia have also done is put their heart and soul into the music, and because of that, the music of The Lion and the Jester becomes a new favorite. Keyboards swirl around loud power chords, bass and drums push the sound forward, and the vocals soar into the stratosphere. Vocalist Nick Sakal has this lower ranged, (think Bjorn Jansson of Ride The Sky) style, but good God what a voice. Powerful, emotional, strong and on many an occasions he sings his lungs out, and gives so many of these songs lift. Joining Nick are brothers John Lov (guitar) and Billy on drums, Johnson “Maestro” Wong on keyboards and John Abanador on bass. Together this great line up has created music that is melodic, heavy, beautiful, layered, epic, rich, orchestral and keenly technical. Amazing songwriting brought to life with great delivery brings about power metal that lays atop a foundation of melodic metal, and sprinkled throughout are touches of the progressive.

Independently released, and with as hopeless as lame ass “Hard Rock and Metal” American radio is at helping support bands like Ascendia and give their music air time, coupled with the fact there is no label to help give their music additional support, it is so important that bands like Ascendia put everything they have into their music, so once a fan is made, that fan sticks around for life. Ascendia have so wonderfully put everything they have into their music. It must also be stated that talent is one thing, but a passion for playing is something else entirely, and passion cannot be faked, and no amount of studio technology can bring about passion – either a band has it or they don’t. And when a band blends talent with passion – like Ascendia has done here – hearing the music of The Lion and the Jester becomes an even bigger thrill.

Hear that talent and feel the band’s passion while listening to the Middle Eastern flair of the opening track “At The End Of It All,” the heavy “Demon Eyes,” the gorgeous piano of the tender ballads, “Last Forever,” and “The Song You Deserved,” the synthesizers of the short instrumental “Why Angels Cry,” the sensational, with its cathedral-filling vocals are the CD highlights, the mid-tempo “Remember Me,” and the inspiring, soaring, “Moonchild.” Also worth a listen are the impressive acoustic guitars and the evil hiss of the almost 8-minute title track, and closing The Lion and the Jester is the almost bluesy, backwoods vibe of the bonus track, “Starlit Eyes.”

Talent and passion is what makes this music a must have. Thank the Power Metal gods that bands like Ascendia do exist. For music that blends the two are hard to find. What a great listen this was. It is a sincere hope that Ascendia follows up this one soon.

Genre: Power Metal

Band Members
Nick Sakal – vocals
John Lov- guitar
Billy Lov – drums
Johnson “Maestro” Wong – keyboards
John Abanador – bass

Track Listing
1. At The End Of It All
2. Remember Me
3. Moonchild
4. Demon Eyes
5. Last Forever
6. No More Tales To Tell
7. Why Angels Cry
8. Faded Away
9. My Last Song
10. The Song That You Deserved
11. The Lion and the Jester
12. Starlit Eyes

Label: Independent


Hardrock Haven rating: 8.5/10