Artist: Aspera
   Title: Ripples
   Label:  Inside Out Music

Hailing from Norway Aspera are a band on the verge of greatness if their debut release ‘Ripples’ is anything to go by.  The band have put together ten outstanding slices of Progressive Metal that will simple stir the soul and feed the mind.

From the complex intro there is a presence that seems almost otherworldly, then the album opens up proper with the title track ‘Ripples’, a track which infuses many of the bands influences.  There are touches of Pagans Mind with hints of Dream Theater, blended with the essence of Symphony X amongst others.  But the band have taken all these influences and turned them into their own unique take on the genre.  It's hard to believe that these guys are only in their twenties because the musicianship on this album is second to none.  Right from the stirring keyboards of Nickolas Main Henrikson to the pounding back beat of Joachim Strom Ekeland on drums and Rein T. Blomquist on bass.   However it's the guitar work of Robin Ognedal and the stunning vocals of Atle Pettersen that really make their mark on the listener.  These two are right on top of their game on this album for sure.

The album continues with ‘Do I Dare’, where again there is a Pagan’s Mind feel running through the first few moments of the track, before the band make the song their own as Pettersen delivers one of the finest vocals I’ve heard for a long time.  This mix of melodic vocal and progressive musicianship really works on this track, with the guitar work of Ognedal being simply stunning.

‘Remorse’ is another breathtaking slice of Progressive Metal that just lifts up like nothing I’ve heard from this genre for a long long time.   Just when you thought you’ve heard the best the album can bring, the band unleash ‘Between Black And White’, a true epic coming in at over eight minutes long.  This song mixes it all beautifully, a powerful back beat with metal vibes against the more traditional prog elements, all mingle together in a melting pot of sheer class.  Without a doubt this is one of the best Prog Metal songs I’ve heard in years.

The album continues to impress with ‘Catatonic Coma’, with a darker more menacing bass line that gets this one underway.  This song is the more haunting, almost ballad like side of the Prog Metal genre.   This same vibe is continued into the next track ‘Torn Apart”.

The tempo is picked up once more with another of my favourite tracks off the album the simple stunning ‘Traces Inside'.  Again Ognedal shines on the six string razor cutting the air with lick after lick, while Pettersen unleashes those mighty vocal pipes once more.  It’s still hard to believe this band are so young, because there is a maturity and professionalism that older bands can only dream of.  Here these five youngsters have it in spades.

‘Reflections’ is the shortest track on the album coming in at just over two minutes long, but what a two minutes this is!  A gentle acoustic guitar gets this one underway, then the keyboards and vocals take over as the band show off their melodic side.

This tremendous debut closes with ‘The Purpose’, a real hard and heavy track that oozes class, as does every track on the album to be honest.  This is a great way to end what has to be one of the best debut’s from a Prog Metal band I’ve ever heard.

This is band definitely on their way to the top and one band you simply have to watch out for in 2010, because believe me, if they are this stunning on album, then just imagine how amazing they could be live!  I cant wait too catch them live in action.  This album may be called 'Ripples' but believe me the band are going to make tsunami sized waves in this genre.


1. Intro
2. Ripples
3. Do I Dare?
4. Remorse
5. Between Black & White
6. Catatonic Coma
7. Torn Apart
8. Traces Inside
9. Reflections
10. The Purpose



All content copyright of The Mayfair Mall Zine unless otherwise stated.