Ark Ascent - Downfall

(CD 2019, 49:32, Ascent Records)

The tracks:
  1- Arrival(3:12)
  2- Point Of No Return(5:34)
  3- Sanctuary(3:28)
  4- Darkest Hour(4:43)
  5- Farewell(1:33)
  6- Downfall(4:15)
  7- Ascension(1:10)
  8- Innocence Lost(3:30)
  9- The Aftermath(6:47)
10- Closer To Heaven(2:06)
11- The End Of Time(13:10)

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Ark Ascent has come a long way to finally release their debut album Downfall. A long way meaning the initiator; Jack Kirby, then a 19 year old multi-instrumentalist, started the band as Prophecy, back in 2011. The same year, former ShadowKeep vocalist Rogue Marechal joined as a vocalist and after a couple of years re-writing and re-recording DGM's Andrea Arcangeli was asked to record the bass parts. After fine tuning Rich Hinks of Aeon Zen and Annihilator was brought in to co-produce and mix the upcoming album. After Jack Kirby finished all the guitar, keyboard and drum parts for the album, drummer Michael Brush joined the ranks of Ark Ascent.

Downfall is a conceptual album that tells the story of the destruction of humankind. From the instrumental opener Arrival to the massive epic The End Of Time we are treated by accessible progressive metal, larded with very nice trashy power metal guitar parts; Darkest Hour, Point Of No Return and more bombastic, symphonic keyboard driven parts which are nicely embedded in the compositions. Some delicate moments also can be found, such as Farewell a very tasteful piano driven composition and Ascension a gentle interlude that crosses the bridge between a solid powerful track; Downfall and an emotional semi power ballad Innocence Lost.

Jack Kirby is a very competent songwriter and musician; sometimes elements of Dream Theater pass by, but the majority of the tracks show affection for Symphony X. But also smoother and more symphonic bands were used as reference, Shadow Gallery sometimes comes to mind during these symphonic parts. Even Iron Maiden related riffs can be found on the album. Rogue Marechal was a great choice to perform the vocal parts, during both the powerful segments as well as the smoother softer parts he totally delivers. Listen to his desperation during Innocence Lost and you hear the qualities of a great vocalist.

All in all Ark Ascent has delivered a solid coherent album, where all the elements perfectly fit together into one extraordinary album.

****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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