Ok so now that the album's finished, I'm lucky enough to be reviewing it before anyone else! In the interests of making it an as genuine as possible review, I've gone track by track - recording my thoughts as each song plays. And afterwards I'll comment here and there. So... Echoes Of The Past: It's an intro. Spoken words. Consider the title of the album as you listen to this one, as well as the next track. Reborn: Definitely a fast way to start the album - from the get-go it's a very upbeat track and it doesn't slow down much. The main riff and verses are reminiscent of Horror Show-ish Iced Earth and the chorus (while slower) is one of those nice catchy choruses that LORD/Dungeon excel at. The symphonic bridge is something new & unexpected which I think came out well. Going Down: A more mid-paced track, this one pays a little homage to the band's AOR/melodic rock influences. It has a distinct groove to it - a real foot-stomper. Nice dual guitar harmonies and "whoa-oh" chorus. I'm guessing we'll hear this one in the live set once or twice. This may or may not be the "Steelheart" of the album. Same Old Lines: I'm hearing a lot of European Power Metal in this. Mid-paced double-kick drums, catchy hooks and WEIRD vocal line - I haven't really heard Tim sing like this on any of his own songs before. There's a lot going on in here but it doesn't sound too cluttered. The solos in this one are worth a mention, haha. TOTAL David Lee Roth rip-off at the end though Rain: Holy Queensryche! A slower, more brooding track that keeps building up then backing off to a darkish chorus. The guitar tone halfway through the solo changes, which tells me We've got a guest lead in this one - but who it is I'm not sure. Either way, it's nice and melodic, yet bursts into a (limited) shred-attack at times. Fits snugly into this one. Nice sampling of rain that I don't think actually stops at all throughout the song adds a classy touch. My Own Way: Starts out as a fairly proggy track that somehow has a slight 80's pop edge (at least to my ears), but heads into a more standard metal verse/chorus type structure that kinda loses my interest. The chorus is golden though. Weakest track so far. Through The Fire: Another hard-rocker. This one is real "driving music" - if you've got a decent car stereo (it's not just the doof-doof fans that do you know) then this one could probably be responsible for a speeding ticket or 2. Also, it's cliche but the way LT sings "FIIIIRREE" is metallicly perfect (yeah, i made that word up.) The Calm: Reminds me of "Life Is Black" from A Rise To Power, though not as long. I would've liked to hear an extended version of this one, as I have a real soft spot for these "interlude" tracks. Limb From Limb: Oh, so THAT's why the song before was called "The Calm", haha. This one is thrashtastic! This riff here is very Slayer. Woah, vocals! Sorry to make the Rise To Power comparison again, but this is "Traumatised 07". The lyrics seem to be of a more...brutal nature. Also, dive bombs all over the place. If this one appears in the live setlist then I can see it being a real crowd favourite. 220: Probably the slowest, least interesting track so far. If I'd made this song, I would've added a solo or something. Legacy: Double kick! It's a throw up between this one and Rain for my favourite track at the moment. It's completely nuts - amazing that considering there's so much going on with the drums, millions of guitars and vocal layering that it doesn't sound like one giant wall of white noise. dive bomb. The bridge of this song is by far my favourite part of the album. A very moody middle section with some tasty soloing over the top, followed by TY's shining moment. Seriously, this dude is a force to be reckoned with. As an indication of how good he is, I saw him record this part in the studio and it took him 2 or 3 takes at most to get this down. When you hear it, you'll understand. Silent Jealousy: X Japan are basically unheard of outside of Japan, yet they're one of the biggest, if not THE biggest band ever to come from there. A faithful rendition of the original with that trademark "LORD" sound. Also the guest vocalist from Vigilante does it justice, however his voice could've been a little more "rough" IMO. Ok so with a song-by-song run-down out of the way, I'll try and review the album as a whole. First thing I'll mention is the production. It's no secret that the budget for this album was minimal, and the finished product sounds like something that some of the highest-paid artists on say, the Century Media roster, can't seem to get...Enemies of Reality, anyone? Everything's crystal clear - considering the amount of guitar and vocal layering at times, the clarity is phenomenal. No review would be complete without some criticism though, and here's what I have for Ascendence. It's main (and probably only) downfall is that it's a fairly "safe" album. Given the history of the band, it's understandable though. It's instantly likeable - the songs are catchy and well-rounded. It goes in new places (that vocal line in "Same Old Lines" for instance) to an extent, but doesn't venture too far from familiar territory. Particularly when it comes to the choruses, I found these new songs reminding me of older tunes and even each other at times. Of course you could probably argue that it's the band's "sound" and you'd have a valid point, but hey - opinions, eh? Overall, there's pretty much nothing that can go wrong for this album; If you're already a fan of the band, this is another really solid offering from an impressive catalogue. If you're a new fan, you're gonna be blown away by the pounding rhythm/shredding lead guitars, lightning-quick yet tasteful drumbeats/fills, mature songwriting and want to find out about the band (I'm pretty sure the liner notes include a run-down on the band's recent history.) I'm a hard man to please, and I give this one a big thumbs up! 3.7 Dougies out of a possible 5.