Ashes of Ares - Well of Souls
Rock of Angels
Heavy Metal
12 songs (58'03")
Release year: 2018
Ashes of Ares
Reviewed by Alex

First I would like to plead ignorance and I admit I didn’t know Matt Barlow was back into metal. Next, I didn’t know he was joined in his new endeavor somewhat strangely titled Ashes of Ares by another Iced Earth expatriate Freddie Vidales. Finally, as you can surmise from my opening admission, I had no idea Ashes of Ares already presented their self-titled debut back in 2013. Thus, my review of their latest album Well of Souls is completely unbiased (wink), since I have no plans to examine or compare current Ashes of Ares output with their debut. Joining Matt and Freddie in their pursuit of pent out desire to deliver more metal is former Nevermore drummer Van Williams.

In short, Well of Souls is entirely respectable if not ground breaking affair which, in places, sounds like, excuse my cliché, a crossover between Iced Earth and Nevermore. Matt Barlow still possesses a powerful set of pipes, once you have talent it apparently stays with you, and he is both plastering his vocals over dark masculine foreboding Vidales’ riffs as well as gliding above lurking progressive melodies. Some songs, like opener Consuming the Mana after its symphonic intro bursts into something akin to Dante’s Inferno feel relying less on riff strength, but more on melodies, and definitely darker, thicker, more modern production.

Speaking of production, some of the songs here are heavy by way of their non-linear rhythms (Spirit of Man) or chaotic nature (The God of War), while others are made to be heavy via downtunage, like the cover of melodic rock You Know My Name or flowing catchy Time Traveller, a song someone like Myrath could have probably recorded. My favorite moments came, however, when Ashes of Ares focused on headbanging and gigantically rhythmic riffs with melodies bleeding over (Unworthy, Transcending). Transcending throws away the enveloping shroud and uncorks almost a religious middle-Eastern experience. It helps to have Van Williams be relentless with his double bass as well as tight and technical with tribal beats midway. Nevermore side shows off through intense Sun Dragon and marital hammering In the Darkness. Dark balladic breaks Soul Searcher and Let All Despair are quite welcome to break the flow, especially given the fact Vidales discovers his more melodic bass lines this way, but Mr. Schaffer can call for royalties for Let All Despair, since its tone, verse and midway tempo pickup sound a dead ringer for Melancholy and Watching over Me from Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Barlow is absolutely not shy to let loose on Well of Souls. I can’t quite know if any of the backing vocals are contributed by anybody but Matt, but the album makes an excellent use of layering together vocal ranges (In the Darkness, Unworthy). From an occasional growl (!) to a strong use of his lower register, Matt shows that he can still deliver a blood curdling scream (the closing moments of Unworthy or Transending are primary testament).

Perhaps a little loose on songwriting, and a little too long to maintain focus throughout, Well of Souls nevertheless is a very decent effort with some songs worthy of frequent replay value.

Killing Songs :
Unworthy, Transcending, Sun Dragon, Let All Despair
Alex quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Ashes of Ares that we have reviewed:
Ashes of Ares - Ashes of Ares reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 73 / 100
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