Ad Astra - Crust Of Ego
Hammer/Nail Records
Progressive Power Metal
8 songs (39:50)
Release year: 2008
Ad Astra
Reviewed by Thomas

The progressive metal scene seems to be exploding with new and hopeful bands from all across the globe looking create names for themselves. The genre is ever-growing, and each week or month new bands try to attach their name onto the star-struck sky of this magic and engaging subgenre. Unfortunately the majority of new prog bands have neither the ability nor the passion and emotion to make any impact at all. Then on the other hand, the bands that contain the aforementioned characteristics tend to have great success. Do these guys have what it takes to take the gigantic step up among the skilled newcomers? Crust of Ego is the debut from these young and hopeful Hungarians, and if there is to be a thin line between fail and success in this game Ad Astra just barely crosses the border of the latter.

Well, while this shows tons of potential in different places, there is also, obviously, room for improvement. Ad Astra play the more aggressive style of progressive metal with the thrashy influences sometimes very similar to the latest Pagan’s Mind, and the usual stuff like Communic and/or Nevermore, without ever being near any of these bands in terms of quality. Actually the opening riff on the first track No Contact is the exact same as on Pagan’s Mind’s Atomic Firelight. Anyways, the songs are rather short, which means that there are few or none longer instrumental didelidoos or long face-shredding guitar-solos for that matter. They manage to mix up their slightly aggressive riffing with the required touch of melody and skill. The title-track is a perfect example on how things should be done with inspirational riffs, pounding drums, slap-hand bass, good vocal-work and really catchy melodies. However, Ad Astra are not able to keep this up throughout the whole record, and the majority of songs sounds a little forced, and somehow lackluster and uncreative. They don’t bring anything new to the scene, and while some of the songs, like the title-track, are pretty solid, the rest takes a step back in terms of songwriting which sounds downright weak on some occasions. The vocalist should try to “free the beast” and let himself go, as he tends to sound too monotonous and uninspired. For the most part he stays in the middle section of his range which sounds pretty pale. His effort would sound much better if he dares to embrace the higher notes, which I’m sure he’ll manage if he works hard enough. This would lift the album a couple of notches in terms of quality.

Now, before you go all suicide on Ad Astra, know that there are really songs here that is well worth a listen, with lots of energy and bounce. They’ve got stuff to work with yes, but in all honesty every band does after their debut. Dream Theater released their best album after a rather mediocre debut, so did Pagan’s Mind. If Ad Astra keeps experimenting with their sound, perfecting every element of it and spend more time on song-writing, there is no reason for why they can’t achieve what other bands did before them. This is also the first and so far the best (obviously) band I’ve heard to come out from Hungary. When I’m taking their musical surroundings into consideration I’m guessing that Ad Astra are trying to establish something new within the Hungarian metal scene in general. Based on pure pretension, I chose to believe that it is dominated by pagan/black/folk metal influenced by their surrounding, more metal countries; hence I give credit to Ad Astra for brining something new to the scene even though it may be a rather exhausted style in the eastern part of Europe. If you’re a progressive or power metal fan, you should give this a shot. Chances are that you’ll like it more than I did and this is definitely a band worth keeping your eyes upon.

Killing Songs :
No Contact, Crust of Ego, The Otherself
Thomas quoted 73 / 100
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There are 4 replies to this review. Last one on Wed Dec 24, 2008 9:23 pm
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