Ascendor – Drive My Demons Away (2015)

Thrash- ”ass kicking, take no prisoners, head bang like there’s no tomorrow.”

The genre itself has been quite the beginner’s guide to young fans who just started familiarizing themselves with more extreme boundaries within the hard rock and metal world. How about those teenage years? Weren’t those years were we felt socially ostracized at the point of rebellion? Didn’t we need some sort of adrenaline rush to help compensate the injustice we were witnessing right before our eyes? So what better way to get that adrenaline other than from some good ol’ fashion thrash metal.

Here comes Ascendor, the Gozitan quintet which slowly started capturing the hearts of many local metal-heads, not just my generation but even mature audiences, which helped rekindled that nostalgia of the good old days, when ”music was great”.

If memory serves me correctly, it was at Xtreme Metal Assault 2013 where I saw them performing live for the first time. Unfortunately, the scorching heat from that darn summer afternoon did not help those in attendance, but I do recollect the fact that being an emerging band at the time, the Gozitans already started showed some chops, they knew exactly what they were doing, displaying a strong set list of original material, complimented with an emphatic cover of Slayer’s ”South Of Heaven”. Over the course of those years, they matured a lot, further gigs indeed cemented further experience, both in terms of engaging with the audience and also in a songwriting point of view, ultimately becoming one of the highlights in successive events.

Admittedly, nowadays I kind of moved on from thrash metal when it comes to daily music of choice, opting for either more extreme or atmospheric genres, but as soon as I sat down and gave a listen to ”Drive My Demons Away”, it re-enacted those years spent at Junior College, squandering through Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Pantera, Evile, Savage Messiah etc as I felt all the anger and frustrations towards the world at that time, coping with social life and studies.

”Drive My Demons Away” is the second release of the Gozitans (still need to check out the first one in its entirety), and it means business from the very first track. Inner struggles and emotions are a main theme in terms of lyrical expression, as depicted in the eponymous track and others such as ”With Broken Wings” and ”War Inside My Head”.

Still, each and every track seems to have its own story behind it, which makes it even more enjoyable to listen and not suffering from that cliche of ”Well, you’ve heard one track, you’ve heard them all”.

As the album progressed, it seems to take a slower and darker approach, of which I’d like to praise the band of not being afraid to stretch the envelope. To mention an example, as soon as ”In The Hangman’s Shadow” kicks in, the quintet shows that they indeed got more than one card in their decks (I just love phrygian scales, being a sucker for Iron Maiden’s Powerslave ,myself). Slow, nice and easy then before you know it, the track takes up a notch driven with a heavy duty conclusion.

To cap it all off, ”Turn Water Into Blood” perhaps exhibits the bands technical prowess both individually and as a unit. The keyboard intro perfectly about to launch the listener into one last hurrah!, not to mention the flawless clean bridge section, reminding me of Iron Maiden’s Strange World.

Definitely worth more than one listen, energetic and ardent at its finest. Noteworthy is the amazing aptitude shown in production, ever present and rarely missing a cue in local gigs and festivals with sound logistics.

Indeed a thrash pièce de résistance \m/ managed to bring me back to my not so distant teenage years. We can all agree that apart from ”gbejniet”, Gozitans are able to produce thrash with prowess! Although some cloudy moments have put you on halt my sincere best wishes for all of you to come back stronger than ever, both as individuals and as a band. Keep on supporting each other and keep that brotherhood intact. ”Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors”

Music enthusiast & coffee addict. Although never involved in bands or local promotions, Alan always wanted to contribute and further expanding the genre he adores most. Listening to countless albums and engaging in conversations with local musicians, what better way to express feelings and insights than the art of writing?