NTH ASCENSION – ASCENSION OF KINGS – SONIC VISTA MUSIC

 In 2009, drummer Craig Walker was asked to stand in for a local band, where he met keyboard player Darrel Treece-Birch, who was also helping them out. This led to them deciding to start a new project together, and they brought along Darrel’s longtime collaborators Martin Walker (who just happens to be Craig’s dad) and singer/bassist Alan ‘Spud’ Taylor. After the release of a demo, Gavin Walker (Craig’s brother, Martin’s son – are you following this?) was brought in as bassist to allow Alan to concentrate on singing. At the time of the release (2014) Darrel was in two other bands, one of which was Ten (with whom he is still with today), and singer Gary Hughes helped out by engineering and producing Alan, as well as providing some backing vocals. But these guys are a totally different style of music to what Darrel plays in Ten.

Some people will argue that these guys are neo prog, while others may look to crossover, but it is honestly just easier to state that they are a very English sounding prog band. Classic Pendragon has obviously been an influence, but so have some of the more keyboard-oriented pastoral bands of the past, and every time I play the classic “Weight of The World” the vocals remind me of some of the songs from Roger Glover’s ‘The Butterfly Ball’! I think what I like about the album is that there is so little stress within it, it is quite laid back at times, but they know when the guitars need to make an impact without always crunching out riffs. They are all fine musicians but are quite happy to sit back and often let Darrel lead the musical flow while Alan sits over the top of it all with wonderfully melodious vocals. They close with the eighteen-minute-long “Vision” which allows them to musically stretch their wings, yet still, keep it all contained and incredibly melodic. Driving, pastoral yet rocky when they need to be, melodic, musical, this is a really nice album indeed.

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by Kev Rowland

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