Nth Ascension | In Fine Initium
Label: Melodic Revolution Records
Release Year: 2016
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Progressive Rock/AOR/Melodic Metal
Alan ‘Spud’ Taylor – Vocals
Darrel Treece-Birch – Keyboards
Craig Walker – Drums & Percussion
Gav Walker – Bass
Martin Walker – Guitars
Mix up one part Saga, the other part Triumph, another part Rush’s Moving Pictures take the voice down a little more into the area of bass and you have the modern Prog recipe for Nth Ascension. Planted first by Alan ‘Spud’ Taylor as a childhood dream and later joined in the field in 1984 with the likes of Robert Stirzaker (Counterparts) – Drums, Martin Walker (Nth Ascension) – Guitars, Andrew Keeling (composer) –Keyboards, and in 1986 Darrel Treece-Birch (TEN and Nth Ascension) – Keyboards would eventually lead to the origins of NTH Ascension in 2010.
By 2016 the current line up of Nth Ascension would be complete with Alan ‘Spud’ Taylor – Vocals , Darrel Treece-Birch – Keyboards , Craig Walker – Drums & Percussion , Gav Walker – Bass , Martin Walker – Guitars. This line up is full of long progressive atmospheric compositions and instrumentally technical prowess. The band ranges from traditional progressive rock of the 1960’s – 1970’s with the neo-progressive sensibilities of the 1980’s and the more electronic and technical elements of the 1990’s – 2000’s. However what the separating factor is with Nth Ascension compared to their peers and contemporaries is the lower than normal vocal register of its leader Alan’Spud’ Taylor. His vocal register has a little of Michael Sadler (Saga), Matt Barlow, (Iced Earth) with a twist of the legendary John Wetton (King Crimson), this makes for a very distinct vocal apart from the rest in the progressive community.
Nth Ascension have returned with their second album In Fine Initium and are officially making their Melodic Revolution Records debut as well. In Fine Initium’s sound, I believe, is a look into progressive rock’s future by using well established progressive rock and metal staples. You know that power progressive rock, slightly heavy melodic metal. I admire the fact that Nth Ascension can not be pigeonholed nor typecast into a solid particular genre. They are the type of band with the appeal to reach a little bit of everyone within the progressive rock or even classic rock communities.
The album opens up with a explosive epic in Kingdom Keys.
Kingdom Keys opens almost like that of a film score or movie soundtrack with every instrument in harmony with one another to make a bold passage. The band comes out firing on all pistons here. Soon there is a break in the music and the warm vocals come into play. At around the 4:00 mark the track goes through various time signatures and identity that gives the band their unique progressive sound. With thunderous rhythm section on top of a deep symphonic keyboard and guitar stringed section that gives the song two different sides, Kingdom Keys certainly is a great foundation track to begin the album with. On the way towards the end there is a semi spoken word section which the band double tracks. It is a nice bridge keeping the song going.
End Of Days begins with a heavy brooding atmosphere created out of the fingers of Darrel Treece Birch. Soon a traditional straight away progressive hard rock track emerges to open the track up more. Like Kingdom Keys, End Of Days has a very movie soundtrack style to it. On top of the heavy keyboard there is a very deep tuned down feel to the rhythm section. Lyrically it is a song of redemption and positivity About the 4:30 mark the track goes through time signatures that also serve as mood changers for the objective listener. The 4:00 outro takes the listener from the summits of the stringed section to the valleys of the rhythm section equally and at times concurrent to one another.
So, That Was The Apocalypse is a instrumental track. It consists of deep rhythm sections with a flair of vintage progressive rock Hammond style organ. This sounds like old school Bad Company and Foghat meets Yes. It has both the straight up classic rock vibe with progressive elements and standards. This serves as a perfect bridge track for The Cage.
The Cage starts with a beautiful piano intro that is quickly joined by both drums and bass in the rhythm section. The guitar comes in to give the track a added atmospheric passage. Soon all instruments lead into the open lyrical verse and the band sounds like a well oiled machine at this point. The Cage is ‘The Epic’ on the album. This is a true roller coaster of the audio senses as it goes in and out of explosive rock passages met with a taste of ballad. Especially at the 5:00 mark where the track takes on layer upon layer of various atmospheres between the keyboard and bass and cymbals. The vocal takes on a David Bowie ‘Space Oddity’ style during this time. Around the 7:00 mark the instrumental takes various curves along the rhythmic highway with neo-progressive road signs with the various chord progressions and time signatures employed by the band. The instrumental rhythm sections are practically AOR/melodic metal in their very nature.
In Search Of The Rider (Clanaan Part 4) picking up where Nth Ascension’s first album Ascension of Kings, In Search of The Rider (Clanaan Part 4) is a epic song that will span over several albums much like Dream Theater did with the Bill W. AA Suite over several albums. The band does a excellent job picking up in the continuation of this story. This also is a very good middle track in that it feels like more of a transitional track towards a much bigger portion to the epic. This also serves as the perfect ‘batton-track‘ in that In Fine Initium continues the story appropriately where Ascension of Kings left off.
Forever (Clanaan Part 5) continues the epic journey with a great rhythm drum fill and a lush atmospheric keyboard passage. The guitar work borders along the lines of Pink Floyd meets Saga. This track is very well balance and also serves as a bridge track within the greater picture of the epic that is Clanaan as a collective. This track has a lot of modern progressive elements as well.
When The Rainfalls (Clanaan Part 6) is the paradox, it both ends the album and continues the ongoing story of Clanaan. This is a lush semi electric guitar track met with warm vocals much like a full ballad.
Nth Ascension have sure opened up more possibility of how progressive rock and music in general sounds. In Fine Initium is yet another evolution into progressive rock’s future by blending the past with the present. This album should provide for a solid set list in live settings. Nth Ascension’s In Fine Initium gets a 4.5/5.
Video Courtesy of: (Melodic Revolution Records Official YouTube Channel)
Reviewed by: (Robert ‘Uncle Prog’ Brady)